Ernest was born on 19 November 1892 in Saxlingham Nethergate. His parents were James and Mary Ann Emms (nee Poyntz). His father was a farmer. He had three brothers and two sisters.
James born 1886
Bessie born 1888
Alice born 1889
Arthur born 1890
Johnny born 1897
In 1901 the family lived on Saxlingham Green.
By 1911 the family were at Salletts Farm in Saxlingham. Ernest and his brother Arthur were working on the farm with their father. Their elder brother James was farming in Woodton and Alice and Johnny were living with him.
Alice died in 1916 and is buried in Saxlingham Churchyard. Arthur died from shrapnel wounds whilst a prisoner of war in Bruges in 1917 and Johnny died in a nursing home in Norwich in December 1925.
Ernest enlisted in the 1/4th Territorial Battalion Norfolk Regiment on 30 April 1912. His service number was 200122. This was something that many young men did. They were expected to attend training sessions each year whilst doing their normal jobs. When they joined they did not expect to be going to war.
As soon as war was declared on 5th August 1914 these Territorial Battalions were mobilised. They spent the next few months training in Essex and Suffolk. In July 1915 they embarked on S.S Aquitania from Liverpool to the Dardenelles. They arrived there on 9 August 1915.
The countryside in which they were fighting was difficult with high hedges, deep ditches and forest in the background which gave cover for snipers. There was also a problem with a lack of water for the troops. By September the number of men in the Battalion fit to fight out of a 1000 men had been reduced to 376 with 218 in hospital, many suffering from dysentery. In November there was a great blizzard in the area and by December the number of fit men had gone down to 170.This was due to illness and the adverse weather and living conditions. On 15 December the Battalion retreated and left for Egypt.
There they remained during 1916 defending the Suez Canal. In 1917 they were involved in fighting in Palestine which resulted in the taking of Jerusalem on 9th December 1917. They remained in Palestine during 1918 and in September of that year moved northwards ending up in Beirut in November 1918.
Realising that he was going to be mobilised abroad Ernest married Violet Youngman by special licence on 8 September 1914. He had to pay £3 for a special licence instead of an ordinary licence which cost 7s 6d. They were married at Swainsthorpe Register Office.
He attended the funeral on 31 October 1914 of his sister -in -law Martha Emms who had died in childbirth.
He saw action in the Dardennelles. Egypt and Suez and was discharged from the army on 23 March 1919.
On their 60th wedding anniversary his wife Violet said that his return was one of the most exciting moments of her life.
‘She was standing talking to a neighbour when she saw a soldier without equipment or a kit bag walking up the road.” I didn’t think any more about it until he smiled and I said ‘That’s my husband’ and I raced down the road to meet him.-He had left his kit bag and belongings at Flordon Station to be brought back later” ‘
In August1919 the village held a dinner for the returning service men. There was dancing later in the evening to which they were allowed to bring a female guest.
They spent their life in Saxlingham Nethergate and in 1939 were living in New Road, Cargate Lane, Saxlingham Nethergate. Ernest was working as an agricultural contractor. He later inherited Green Farm, on Saxlingham Green. He farmed there for almost forty years.
They had four children.
Ernest born 1915
Doris born 1920
James born 1926
When they celebrated 60 years of being married in 1974 they had 14 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.
Ernest was loved sport, he was a keen shot and enjoyed playing darts. He liked playing cricket and was considered to be a demon bowler. He played for Saxlingham Nethegate and also South Norfolk. In later life he took up bowls.
He died on January 10th 1975. He is buried in St. Mary’s Church graveyard, Saxlingham Nethergate with his wife.
England & Wales, Birth, marriage, death index 1837-2005
UK Census Collection
British Army Medal Roll Index cards, 1914-1920
1939 Register- www.findmypast.co.uk
Norfolk Electoral Rolls-Southern Division Saxlingham Nethergate and Thorpe, (Absent Voters Lists 1918-1920)
Article in The Journal 20 September 1974 – in Saxlingham Village Scrapbook in the care of the Parish Council .
Eastern Daily Press. 2nd November 1914. Funeral of Martha Emms
The History of the Norfolk Regiment. Vol.II. – F. Loraine Petre. Norwich: Jarrold and Son Ltd. The Empire Press.
Many thanks to Linda Wenham, granddaughter of Ernest Emms for the photographs and family information.
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