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Ernest Lees Walmsley


Ernest Lees Walmsley was born on February 5, 1877 in Oldham. He was the second child of four born to Thomas and Mary Walmsley (née Lees), who married at Oldham in 1874. In 1881, Thomas, his wife Mary and their three children, Constance (born February 10, 1875), Ernest, and Gertrude (born September 17, 1879), were living at 9 Churchill Street in Oldham. Also living with them were Ernest’s grandparents, John and Mary Walmsley. Thomas was employed as the Secretary to a cotton spinning company. His father John was a retired Grocer: both of them had been born in Blackburn.

Early Life

In 1887, Ernest was recorded as a pupil at the Waterloo Board School, in Oldham, as were his sisters Constance and Gertrude. When the family were next recorded in the Census of 1891, Constance, (aged 16), was described as a Pupil Teacher, presumably at the Waterloo School. Ernest and Gertrude, together with their new sister, Nellie, were recorded as scholars. The family had moved from Churchill Street, and were then living on Bismarck Street. Thomas was still employed as a Secretary.

Chester College

Ernest attended Chester College and left in 1898. Ernest married Martha Jane Bottomley in the summer of 1902 in Oldham. In 1911, the couple, who had no children, were living at 15 College Road, in Oldham; both were employed as Teachers and they had a live-in domestic servant, Margaret Patterson (aged 23). Following Martha’s death in 1912, Ernest married Emma Hirst on August 19, 1914 at the Wesleyan Chapel, on Greenacres Road, in Oldham.

Military Service

On November 1, 1915, Ernest enlisted in the army. He attested in Oldham on that date and became Private 77771, Royal Army Medical Corps. He had previous military experience, two years’ service with the 3rd Battalion Cheshire and Carnarvon Garrison Artillery (dates unspecified). He was 38 years old.

Lest We Forget

Ernest remained in the UK until the 11th September 11, 1916, when he was part of a reinforcement draft - 1KK - which was sent to Malta. There he worked at the military hospital at Cottonera with 30th Company R.A.M.C. Whilst there, he became infected as a direct result of his work with the sick and injured soldiers for whom he cared. The medical report in his service record states that his disability began on November 6, 1916 at the Camp Hospital, Cottonera. He was admitted as a patient to the hospital on the November 10 suffering from complications.

The official illness given in the report was "contagion - from ordinary military service with soldiers who most probably carried the disease." It was recommended that he be sent home to England. He was discharged on December 13, but sadly he died on December 18 while on his way home.

Post Mortem

As Ernest had served overseas, but not in a theatre of war, he was only entitled to the British War Medal, which was sent to his widow, Emma.