BRETT, Ernest Hugh William

2nd Lieutenant, Ernest Hugh William BRETT
Aged 19

9th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry
attached to 1st/5th Pioneer Battalion
formerly 30780, Royal Army Medical Corps
Died of his Wounds on Wednesday, 2nd August 1916

Ernest Hugh William BRETT was born in Hong Kong 28th January 1895, son of Lancelot Ernest and Elizabeth Catherine BRETT (née JONES). His parents had married in Hong Kong on 26th June 1895.

1901 He was admitted to Dolgellau Board School, Caernarvonshire on 9th September 1901, guardian S Ernest Brett of Mount Pleasant. He left the school 25th July 1902 when leaving the town. The family were still in Hong Kong. His sister Phyllis Mary Thornton (Thornton was her grandmother's maiden name) was born in Hong Kong around October 1905, but died on June 12th 1906. His mother died in Hong Kong on December, 25th 1905, aged 35.
His father married Ethel Georgina POTTER at St Andrew's Church, Kowloon on 5th June 1907. Their son Richard William BRETT was baptised on December 11th 1909 in St John's Cathedral, Hong Kong.

Having joined the Army Medical Staff Corps in 1890, aged 18, and served there for 3 years, his father was commissioned in the Chinese Labour Corps and was in France on 17th July 1917. He came back to UK with bronchitis/influenza in August 1918 and eventually saw the war out attached to the Labour Corps Records Office in Nottingham until December 1920.

CWGC have his father at 11 Broad Green Avenue, West Croydon, Surrey (where he died in 1930). None of the family have been found in the 1901 or 1911 census.
The Army "Living relatives" form completed by his father on 1st November 1916 records father, stepmother Georgina Ethel, sister Elizabeth Ann; brothers John Charles Llewellyn, Lancelot David, Richard William and Ralph, all of 11 Broad Green Avenue, West Croydon.

He enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, No.30780, on 3rd September 1914, at Aldershot. He gave his age as 19 years 215 days, a bank clerk, born in Hong Kong. He was 5 feet 8 inches (172.7 cm)tall, weighed 143 lbs (65.1 kg), chest 33.5" to 35.5" (85.1 to 90.2 cm), grey eyes, brown hair, Church of England.
At the time of his application for a commission he was a private in the RAMC Depot at Aldershot. One reference was from Walter Newman, Vice Principal of the East Anglian School when Ernest was in the fifth form for a short time.

Discharged from 63rd Field Ambulance on 2nd April 1915, he was gazetted temporary 2nd Lieutenant on April 3rd, 1915 in 9th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.

On 1st August 1916 the 1st/5th battalion were on pioneer duties at Laventie.
2nd Lieut. E. H. W. Brett was admitted into Hospital on the 1st, having been wounded in the head by a sniper, and the next day news came through that he had died in the 1/2nd London Clearing Station. He was buried in the cemetery near by.

1/2nd London C.C.S. was another title for No.54 C.C.S. which was at Merville from Aug.1915 to March 1918.

photo: Rodney Gibson

Ernest Brett is buried in Laventie Military Cemetery, La Gorgue, France grave 2:D:19
and commemorated on the London Joint City and Midland Bank - WWI Memorial, Canary Wharf.

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details