|Date of birth:||Spring 1896|
|Place of birth:||Southampton|
|Regiment / Division:||Hampshire Regiment|
|Battalion:||14th battalion (territorial)|
|Died:||2nd June 1917 aged 24 years|
Three of Frederick and Julia Collis five sons served in the first world war; Percy Harold, Montague Edgar and Ernest Arthur. Only one of their sons returned from service, Montague Edgar Collis.
The military records of Ernest Arthur Collis have not survived. We know he was serving as a private in the 14th battalion of the Hampshire Regiment (service number 33203). The 14th (Service) Battalion (also known as the 1st Portsmouth) was formed at Portsmouth on 3 September 1914 by the Mayor and a local Committee. They were adopted by War Office on 30 May 1915.
In October 1915 they moved to Witley and came under orders of 116th Brigade in 39th Division. The battalion was ordered to mobilize in February 1916 and landed at Le Havre on the 6 March 1916. On April 14th put into the trenches at Givenchy and South of the La Bassee Canal at Cuinchy or further North at Festubert. When out of the line they would usually go to Riez du Vinage or Annequin.
The Battalion lost an Officer and a C.S.M in a mine explosion on May 28th. Ernest Arthur was killed in action on 2nd June 1917 aged 24 just before the battalions first raid at Cuinchy on June 7th.
He is buried with 1,800 other casualties in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium. For much of the First World War, Vlamertinghe (now Vlamertinge) was just outside the normal range of German shell fire and the village was used both by artillery units and field ambulances. Burials were made in the original Military Cemetery until June 1917.
No medal entry has been found for Ernest Arthur Collis, however he would like so may others have been awarded at the least the British war medal and the Victory medal for services to his country. When awarded together these medals were irreverently refereed to as ‘mutt and jeff’
The British War Medal was awarded for service in World War One. Also called the British Empire campaign medal, it was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Squeak’.
The Victory medal, also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal was awarded to those who received the British War Medal. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Wilfred’.
Life before the war
Ernest Arthur Collis was born in 1896 in Southampton the fourth child of Frederick Herbert Collis born in 1865 assistant inspector of weights and measures for the corporation and Julia Fanny nee Newton born in 1867 who had married in the Spring of 1883.
Their marriage was registered in Southampton district vol2c page 15.
They had a total of nine children but by 1911 two had died in infancy.
The following children of Frederick Herbert and Julia Collis are confirmed from parish records:
- Henry George H was born in 1883. No further information was found.
- Hilda was born in 1890. No further information was found.
- Percy Harold was born in 1893. He served as Second Lieutenant with the 4th Battalion of the Territorial Force of the Hampshire Regiment and died on 31st July 1917.
- Ernest Arthur was born in 1896
- Montague Edgar was born in 1898. In February 1916, employed as a ships steward he enlisted for service in the Dorset Yeomanry (service number 2276), transferred to the 21st Leicester Yeomanry (service number 3762), transferred to 2nd Life Guards (service number 4224). He was demobilised from the Guards Machine Gun Regiment (service number 4410) in March 1919. Early in 1922 he married Nellie Broomfield. He died in 1975 aged 78.
- Sydney Thomas was born in 1903. No further information was found.
- Gladys was born in 1908. No further information was found.
- No details were found of the two infants who had died.
In 1901 the family (incorrectly transcribed as ‘Cotter’) lived at 94 Radcliff Road, St Mary Extra, Southampton. His father Frederick was a local Assistant Weights and Measures Inspector.
In 1911 the family lived at in ‘Rosetrevor’ in Castle Street, Southampton. His father Frederick was still gainfully employed as an Assistant Weights and Measures Inspector for the local council whilst Ernest worked as a saloon boy for the Union Castle Line.
His father Frederick Herbert Collis died in 1924 aged 58. [Although he could have died before 1916 as Montague Edgar puts his mother down as next of kin when all other service records list their father as next of kin.]
His mother Julia Fanny Collis of Allandale, 18 Hawkeswood Road, Bitterne, Southampton died 14th December 1927 aged 62 at the Knowle Mental Institution, Fareham. She left £564 11d to her sons Montague Edgar Collis and Sydney Thomas Collis.
Researched by DHW – April 2013.
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