SPARKE[S], Ernest William

No.42646, Private, Ernest William SPARKES
Aged 19

1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment
Died of his Wounds on Sunday, 29th September 1918

Ernest William Sparkes was born in Clapham on 25th April 1899 (Wandsworth Q2-1899 1D:690), baptised at The Epiphany, Stockwell on 5th November 1899 son of William and Ellen SPARKES (née NEVARD). They were living at 7 York Terrace, father a tram driver.

1901 census...Aged 1 he was at 5 Tasman Road, Lambeth with his father William SPARKES [36] tram driver born Chippenham, Cambs and his mother Ellen [25] born Colchester.

1911 census...Aged 11, he was at Foundry Place, West Street, Mildenhall with his uncle Edward HALLS [49] labourer born Durham and aunt Annie HALLS (née SPARKES) [44] born Cambridgeshire. His parents were at 102 Morley Road, Barking, Essex with his new siblings, Annie [10], Arthur [8] and Charles, all born in Brixton, London, and Reginald [1] born in Barking.

All references to him are as SPARKES, so is has to be assumed the stonemason omitted the 'S' in error.

There is confusion over HALLS or LAIGHT. Some of the family used the surname Halls Lait, some were Halls and some were Lait or Laight. There seems to be no regular pattern or reason. His uncle was usually Edward Laight Halls

Enlisted in Newmarket. He died in No.6 General Hospital, Rouen. sole legatee, his Aunt Annie LAIGHT.

Dying of his wounds and no service record being found we cannot say where and when exactly he was wounded. The battalion had been engaged in heavy fighting in September 1918 for the Quadrilateral, not the Quadrilateral on the Somme, but in the area of Holnon Wood 3.5 miles West of St Quentin.

The Bury Free Press of 26th October 1918:-

The accompanying photo is of Prvt.Ernest William Sparkes, Leicester Regiment, a nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Laight, his foster-parents, of Foundry Place, Mildenhall. He joined up at the age of 18, and went with his battalion to France in April last, was wounded in the face whilst going into action about the 18th September, and had recently died after an operation at a hospital in Rouen. Prior to joining the colours the deceased soldier was a clerk for some four years at The Mill, Barton Mills. He was also a member of the Mildenhall Church Choir. Writing to his aunt from the hospital, Prvt Sparkes mentions that he was wounded just as they were going over the top, by a piece of shell which broke his bottom jaw. At first he appears to have progressed fairly, but later on had to be operated on, and getting rapidly worse, passed away. Sincere sympathy is extended to this relatives and friends in their sorrow.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Ernest Sparkes is buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, grave S:2:D:7

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