Emigration and army service
Ernest George Garbett was born at Drybrook, Worcs on the 18th September 1895, the son of Charles and Alice Garbett. Sometime before the war he emigrated to Canada with his father. He enlisted at Toronto on the 12th April 1915 and initially joined the 35th Infantry Battalion (which provided reinforcements for the 23rd Battalion). However on arriving in France from England in October 1915 he was drafted to the 14th Battalion.
Garbett spent Christmas 1915 with the Battalion and received shrapnel wounds in the hand the following June. In November he was granted 10 days leave and in the New Year 1917 was promoted Corporal. Four months later he was promoted Sergeant but he did not serve in this capacity for long.
The following appeared in the Malvern News on the 21/7/17:
“Following an intimation received by Mrs. A. Garbett of 5 Paling Cottages, Lower Wyche, Malvern, that her son, Sergt. Ernest George Garbett, of a Canadian Battalion was seriously ill at casualty clearing station; she has now had news of his death. His father who was employed for many years at the Tudor Hotel, Malvern, and who also joined a Canadian battalion, died from wounds in August last. An Army Chaplain wrote the following letter to Mrs. Garbett on July 13th:
“‘I am very sorry indeed to write this letter, for it is to tell you of a very heavy blow that has befallen you. Your son, Sergt. Garbett was admitted here suffering from blood poisoning and after a brief illness he passed away this morning. I pray God to comfort and strengthen you: I saw him yesterday evening; he seemed better and it arranged that he should receive the Holy Communion this morning. He spoke of you, and asked me to write to you to tell you of his sickness and of his love for you. He was glad when I suggested Holy
Communion, and when I left him he was praying. Not long after he became unconscious. His last conscious thoughts were of you and of his Maker.
“I know you will feel your loss, for just a year ago you were mourning for your husband, and now your son has gone to join him. Yet could any death be better? He sacrificed everything for his country; he gave his service and his life. He turned to God in his last moments; in faith and love. Surely to such a one does God give the peace and rest that He alone can give. May He give to you, too, comfort and strength. “A Nursing Sister also writes – ‘ I am so sorry to have to tell you of the death of your son. I hope you will have got first a letter from the Padre, telling you of his serious condition. He got rapidly worse during the night, and died at 8 o’clock this morning. He only came into hospital three days ago with a very bad boil on his back. He was very ill, and was already suffering from septic poisoning. Still we hoped he would recover with treatment. He was not in any pain, and seemed very comfortable when I left him last night, but he became gradually unconscious. I am so sorry: please accept my deep sympathy.’
Ernest Garbett lies in Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, near Bethune.
A family tragedy
Sadly Ernest’s death was not the only member of the Garbett family that the war affected. His father Charles had died of wounds the previous August while serving with the 42nd Infantry Battalion.
CEF Papers Canadian National Archives, RG150 Acc 1992-93/166, Box 3399 – 19
Malvern News 21/7/1917
Berrows Worcester Journal Picture Supplement 28/7/1917