Ernest Hart Painter was born in December 1884 one of eight children to Alfred and Elizabeth from Devon. Alfred moved the family to Cheddar, Somerset to work at a paper mill in but sadly passed away when Ernest was only eleven years old.
The family rallied round Elizabeth, however, and, by the time of the 1901 census, she was living on the outskirts of the town with her six younger children. Elizabeth worked as a domestic cook; Ernest was an agricultural labourer; his two older sisters were shirt machinists; his 13 year old brother Albert was listed as a gentleman’s servant.
Ernest, by this point, seemed to have taken on the role of head of the family; he continued work as a farm labourer, while Elizabeth earned money as a housekeeper. Alfred became a mechanic for a car dealer and, at the 1911 census, the three of them lived with the youngest member of the family, Ernest’s sister Emily, who had followed in her older sisters’ footsteps as a machinist.
As with many of the fallen men and women of the Great War, a lot of Ernest’s military service records have been lost to time. He enlisted in the Army Veterinary Corps in December 1915, his work as a farm labourer presumably having involved animals and livestock.
Private Painter must have been on the front line as, on 30th May 1918, he was shot in the ankle. Shipped back to England for treatment, he was eventually discharged from service on 19th November, a week after the Armistice. The ankle wound continued to give him trouble, however, and over the following couple of hears, he had a number of operations on it.
Sadly, the last of these procedures resulted in an infection, and sepsis took hold. Private Painter passed away from blood poisoning on 15th April 1921. He was 36 years old.
Ernest Hart Painter lies at rest in the graveyard of St Andrew’s Church in Cheddar, Somerset.