4th Dragoon Guards (Royal Irish), 1st November 1914
The Derbyshire Courier dated 9 March 1915
Extract from the above publication :-
WOUNDED AND MISSING.
No News of a Hepthorne Lane Dragoon Guardsman.
No news has been heard since November 1st of Private Ernest Stewart, second son of Mrs. Stewart, of 73 Rose Villas, New Street, Hepthorne Lane. Private Stewart joined the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards in 1912 and was stationed at Tidworth Barracks, Wiltshire, until the outbreak of war. He went to the fighting line in August and came unscathed through the battles of Mons, the Marne and the Aisne. Whilst helping to stem the tide of the Germans advance in Flanders he was wounded, and has not been heard of since. Private Stewart will be 22 years of age in April. An elder and younger brother have also joined the colours since the war commenced. Driver Arthur Stewart, who is 33, enlisted in the R.F.A. and is now at Redford Barracks, Colinton, Scotland. The younger son, Private Wilfred Peter Stewart, who only recently celebrated his 19th birthday, is with the Sherwood Foresters at Whittington Barracks, Lichfield.
The sons are but following the brave example of their father, the late Mr. William Henry Stewart, who was in the Sappers and Miners (R.E.) from 1855 to 1876. He saw service in the Indian Mutiny, was present at Lucknow and Cawnpore, and was the recipient of the War Medal and Bar. On his death from gangrene about two years ago he was buried at Clay Cross with full military honours.
Synopsis of Life and Military Service
Ernest Stewart was born on 3rd April 1893 at Clay Cross, Chesterfield, Derbyshire to William Henry and Clara Stewart. His father had been a professional soldier for around 20 years before returning to civilian employment as a Blacksmith, Labourer and later a Miner. Ernest was baptised on 3 May 1893 at Clay Cross. Very little is known of his early life but it is known by the time of his 17th birthday he was a Ponyman working in the coal mines where a number of his other family members were also to work.
The next year 1912, as has been mentioned above, he was to join the 4th Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, a cavalry regiment. His father died in 1913 and at some point Ernest was stationed at Assay Barracks, Tidworth, Wiltshire. He was then transferred to France/ Flanders with his unit on the 21st August 1914, a short time after the start of the war. On the 1st November 1914, when the war was still pretty mobile, he was known to have been wounded and missing during an enemy attack and his units retirement. His body was either never found or never identified and he was later honoured and remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
His mother Clara was sole benefactor of his pension, his siblings receiving some of the money.
Diary for the 4th Dragoon Guards
1st November 1914
Extract from the above War Diary :-
Reveille at 3.30 a.m., stood to arms at 4 a.m. having placed our section in a thorough state of defence for street fighting. The enemy commenced the terrific bombardment again about 5.45 a.m.. At 6 a.m. we discovered that the 2nd Cavalry Division and the London Scottish had been driven back during the night and the Germans had broken through on our left, the above named having failed to inform us of their retirement. Our left rear was now seriously threatened and Major Jolly Flood ordered one squadron of the 18th Hussars and the West Yorks who had been driven in our own left to advance to protect the left. This they accomplished in conjunction with the West Yorks with great gallantry, the germans falling back with heavy loss the enemy being reinforced advanced to the attack again and our left rear, owing to the retirement being dangerously threatened we were ordered to retire and evacuate MESSINES. This was completed, the retirement being carried out in excellent order, and all wounded evacuated. The retirement being covered by ‘B’ Squadron, and 1 squadron of 18th Hussars.
We now took up a fresh line of trenches on the West of MESSINES, the infantry holding the line south of MESSINES-WULVERGHEM road. The cavalry (i.e 2nd Cavalry Brigade) line North of that road to the crossroads about 1 ½ miles due west of the 4th milestone on the MESSINES – WYTSCHAETE road. Any further attempt on the Germans to advance that day was easily repulsed and at nightfall we were relieved by the 1st Cavalry Brigade. Regiment shelled all day.
Billeted for the night south of WULVERGHEM.
Casualties – Captain Kirkwood – wounded, Captain Wright – wounded, Lieutenant Railstone – Killed, Lieutenant Davidson – wounded, Lieutenant Jetherstonehaugh – wounded, 2nd Lieutenant Powell – killed. 41 N.C.O.’s and men killed and wounded.
Ernest Stewart was born on 3rd April 1893 at Clay Cross, Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
His family is shown as follows :-
- Father: William Henry Stewart, born c.1838 at Tavistoke, Devon. (Blacksmith / Miner)(d.1913)
- Mother: Clara Stewart, born c.1861 at Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
- Brother: Arthur, born c.1882 at Pilsley, Derbyshire. (Coal Miner Hewer)
- Brother: James W., born c.1885 at Clay Cross, Derbyshire. (Coal Miner – Pony Driver)
- Sister: Emily Stewart or Haslam, born c.1887 at Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
- Sister: Annie Stewart or Ashmote, born c.1890 at Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
- Brother: Wilfred Peter, born c.1896 at Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
- Sister: Clara, born c.1898 at at Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
- Sister: Susanna Stewart or Briddon.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have Ernest’s age at death as 25 years, however, the correct age is 21 years as he was born on the 3rd April 1893 as specified in his baptism record. At the time it was not unusual for individuals to lie about their age as there was no proof of age required to join the military.
From information found in the 1901 and 1911 Census and Pension card, the following addresses have been ascertained.
- 1901 – Recorded as residing at the family home at New Street, Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
- 1911 – Recorded as residing with his family at Thanet Street, Clay Cross, Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
- 1915 – 73 Rose Villas, New Street, Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
- 1918 – 34 Compton Street, Holmewood, Chesterfield, Derbyshire.
Ernest Stewart is honoured and remembered on the following War Memorials :-
- Clay Cross War Memorial, High Street, Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
Links to Additional Information
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission – Ernest Stewart
- Lives of the First World War – Ernest Stewart
- A Street Near You website – Ernest Stewart
- Find a Grave – Memorial of Ernest Stewart
- Imperial War Museum Memorials – Clay Cross, Derbyshire.
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
- Medal Index Card.
- Medal Roll – Corps of Dragoons – Victory and British War Medal.
- Medal Roll – Corps of Dragoons – 1914 Star.
- Soldiers Died in the Great War.
- The National Archive – 4th Dragoon Guards War Diary.
- Register of Soldiers Effects
- Irelands Memorial Records 1914-18.
- Pension Card.
- 1911 Census.
- 1901 Census.
- Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal dated 17 December 1915.
- The Derbyshire Courier dated 9 March 1915.
- Imperial War Museum Memorials Project.
- Vincent Stuart
- Lisa Jennings (War memorial Photos)