The Fallen of Ewhurst and Ellen's Green, Surrey  
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  Ernest Arthur Smithers 

Shoesmith, 8403.

 21st (Empress of India) Lancers.
Died of Wounds 25th March 1917, age 26. 

Buried in Grove Town Cemetery, Méaulte, Somme, France (IV. C. 39)

Remembered on :
Ewhurst War Memorial,  Memorial Plaque and Book of Remembrance
Ellen's Green Memorial Tablet



ERNEST ARTHUR SMITHERS, born in December, 1890, was the son of William and Eliza, of Burnt Hill, Dunsfold, Surrey.

Ernest and his wife, Winifred Ellen May (nee May), lived in Baynard's Cottages, Cox Green, Ewhurst,  with their three sons Arthur William (born 17/05/1912), Kenneth Lesley (born 16/04/1914) and Robert Archibald (born 31/03/1916).

Ernest enlisted in Cranleigh and his unit, the 21st (Empress of India) Lancers, remained stationed in India throughout the First World War.  A Service Squadron, however, was formed on 14th June 1916 specifically to fight in France as part of XIV Corps and Ernest arrived in France as part of this unit.

On 14th March 1917 German forces on the Somme began a strategic withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line, a strongly fortified position some miles to the rear of their existing battle line which British forces had attacked the previous July with the initial Battle of the Somme. This withdrawal took until 5th April 1917.

On the night of 24th March 1917, Ernest and the Service Squadron were billeted in Le Mesnil, a small village in the Somme area.  According to the Service Squadron diary, the billet area received heavy artillery fire and six men, including Ernest,  were wounded. It is likely that Ernest was moved to either the 34th or the 2/2nd London Casualty Clearing Stations at nearby "Grove Town" near Méaulte. The following day, 25th March 1917, an entry in the Service Squadron diary records:

"SS Smithers died of wounds received in bombardment of 24th".

Ernest was laid to rest in Grove Town Cemetery, Méaulte (IV. C.39) which at the time was receiving casualties from  the two Clearing Stations.

Following Ernest's death, his widow and family moved to live with her mother in North Holmwood, near Dorking.

Ernest Smithers grave in Grove Town Cemetery
(Courtesy of Nigel Balchin)

Follow this Link to details about First World War Medals


Andrew Bailey, Ewhurst, Surrey