CWG: Private Ernest Lewis

Private Ernest Lewis

Ernest George Lewis was born in Bridgwater, Somerset, in the spring of 1895, one of fourteen children to labourer Frederick and his wife Harriett Rose. Two of his older brothers went to work for the local brickworks, but Ernest hauled coal to earn a living once he left school.

When war broke out, he was eager to do his part; he enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry early on, serving as a Private in the 1st Battalion. His troop was to see some of the fiercest fighting in the conflict, including the Battles of Le Cateau, the Marne, the Aisne, Messines within the first six months.

Private Lewis’ troop was also involved in the Second Battle of Ypres in the spring of 1915, but it was later that year that his fate became sealed. At some point he was caught up in a German gas attack; he was evacuated home, but there is no confirmation whether he was hospitalised as a result (although it seems likely).

The gas was to damage his lungs to the extent that he would not recover. There are conflicting reports as to the cause of Private Lewis’ passing, with one source identifying the gas in France, while another put it down to pneumonia and typhoid. (It seems probable that the attack ultimately resulted in Ernest catching pneumonia, although this is not clear.)

Either way, Private Lewis passed away at home on 27th October 1915. He was just 20 years old.

Ernest had eleven brothers, four of whom would have been old enough to be enlisted to fight. Ernest was the only one of the family to perish.

Ernest George Lewis lies at peace in the Wembdon Road Cemetery in his home town of Bridgwater.

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