Private Ernest Joseph Kent (201441)

2/5th Bn, The Notts and Derby (The Sherwood Foresters) Regiment, 178th Brigade, 59th Division, T.F., B.E.F.

Malvern Commemoration: Holy Trinity North Malvern,

Burial/Commemoration: New Irish Farm Cemetery

Nature of Death: Died of wounds France 26/9/1917

Age: 19

Next of Kin: Son of Mary Ann Kent of Warwick Cottage, Cowleigh Road, Malvern and the late Francis Kent; husband of Edith Annie Kent of the Cowleigh Arms, Cowleigh Road.

Previous Employment: Miner at Ilkeston, Derbyshire

Ernest Kent

Early years

Ernest Kent was born at Upton-on-Severn in 1897, the son of a house painter, Francis and his wife Mary Ann.  He was one of six brothers.  Ernest was christened at Upton Parish Church on 29th March 1897, at the time the Kent family were living at Bury Field.  By 1901 the family were living near the Royal Oak Hotel.

The Royal Oak pub, Upton-on-Severn in the 1930s.

The Royal Oak pub, Upton-on-Severn in the 1930s.

Francis Kent was also a member of the Worcestershire Volunteer Force for 20 years.  Sometime after 1901, Francis and Mary moved to North Malvern – and along with Ernest living at 5 Rock Terrace, Cowleigh Road.  Francis died in 1912 and was buried at West Malvern Church on 21st September.

Prior to the Great War, Ernest was working on the Derbyshire coalfields at Ilkeston.  He possibly followed in his older brothers’ footsteps – Alfred, also giving Ilkeston as his home address when he joined the army.

One of the Ilkeston collieries, Manners Colliery in the early 20th Century.

One of the Ilkeston collieries, Manners Colliery in the early 20th Century.

First World War

Ernest was living at 5 John Street, Ilkeston when he added two years onto his age and enlisted in the 2/5th Notts and Derby Regiment.  He joined the army at Derby on 31st March 1915.  During training in the UK he married Edith Annie Reynolds, the daughter of the publican of the Cowleigh Arms, at St Peter’s Church, Cowleigh on 25th September 1915.  He continued to add the two years onto his age here too!

To France with the Sherwood Foresters

In November 1915, Ernest landed in France and was posted to the 1/5th Notts and Derby Regiment.  He served with them through the winter, but was evacuated home, sick in August 1916.  On recovery he was sent back out to France to his old unit in February 1917.  However his time on the continent was short – he joined his battalion on 5th March and was invalided home to England suffering from a knee injury, 25 days later.

Following an operation and recuperation, and a period of leave in Malvern with his wife, Ernest landed at Boulogne on 29th July 1917.  The Battle of Passchendaele had opened, and he was posted to the 2/5th Notts and Derby Regiment, joining them at Mesnil-en-Arrouaise, south-east of Bapaume on 18th August 1917.

A John Players cigarette card illustrating the 59th (North Midland) Division

A John Players cigarette card illustrating the 59th (North Midland) Division

The 2/5th Notts and Derby Regiment took part in following the German Retreat to Hindenburg Line in March and April, but it was not until September that it was engaged in its first full-scale action, the phase of the 3rd Ypres Offensive known as the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge. This was a carefully prepared assault with massive artillery preparation, and most of the objectives were taken easily.  The next phase, the Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September), was equally successful, with the 59th Division advancing steadily behind its barrage onto the final objectives.

Battle of Polygon Wood

This battle was fought near Ypres in Belgium, in the area from the Menin road to Polygon Wood and thence north, to the area beyond St Julien.  Ernest’s division was engaged in the northern area of attack and on 26th September, attacked with two brigades.  The role of the 2/5th Notts & Derbys was to support the attack of the 2/8th Notts & Derbys until they had reached their objective and then to pass through them and capture and consolidate further positions, and finally to capture a strongpoint known as Otto Farm.

The battle commenced at 5.50am, and all went to plan – however, the assault on Otto Farm was costly; ‘B’ Company lost all but 28 of their officers and men by the end of the day.  A strong counter-attack developed in the afternoon, and the troops from Otto Farm were withdrawn.  However the first positions captured by the battalion were firmly established and held.

Ernest was posted missing following this fighting, but it was not until six months had passed that he was officially considered to have been killed in action on this day.  In this intervening time, Ernest and Edith’s son William was born on 16th October 1917.


In March 1920, Ernest’s body was recovered from the battlefield by 188th Labour Company and buried at New Irish Farm Cemetery.  His body was found south-east of St Juliaan, a little behind the line, suggesting that he had perhaps been mortally wounded and being evacuated to a field ambulance when he died.  His body had been identified by his identity discs. 

New Irish Farm Cemetery had been used during the war, but was greatly enlarged when more than 4,500 graves were brought in from the battlefields north-east of Ypres (now Ieper) and from the smaller outlying cemeteries.

Ernest Kent's grave at New Irish Farm Cemetery.

Ernest Kent’s grave at New Irish Farm Cemetery.

On 6th February 1919, Edith Kent married Ivor Lamb, a returning soldier, at St Peters Church, Cowleigh.

A notable family record

Ernest had five brothers who served with the army during the Great War and one with the Royal Navy.  (Alfred who also served with the Notts and Derby Regiment, was killed early in 1917.

Upton-upon-Severn Parish Registers
St Peter's Cowleigh Parish Records
1901 Census
1911 Census
British Army World War I Service Records
Malvern News 24/11/1917

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