Ernest Arthur Head

Date of birth: 1878
Place of birth: Southampton
Service No.: 35038 (formerly 31572 Wiltshire Regiment)
Rank: Private
Regiment: Yorkshire – Alexandra Princess of Wales Own
Battalion: 13th
Died: 13th April 1918 aged 39 years
Death location: Passchendaele, Belgium


Life before the War
Ernest was the 4th of 8 children born to parents Steven George, born 1847 and died 1920, and Emily, nee Maiden born 1848 and died 1914.  Both were born and died in Southampton.  They were married in 1865.

All of their children were born in Southampton.  Ernest’s siblings – 6 sisters and 2 brothers – were:

Agnes F.   B.1870

Stephen George   b.1874

Albert William   b.1876

Florence Isabella   b.1880

Margaret Ellen   b.1882

Emily Amelia   b.1884

Daisy Maud   b.1886

Ethel Victoria   b.1890

In the 1891 census Ernest was living at 98 High Street,  Southampton, with his parents and siblings.  Steven gave his occupation as a Fruit and Vegetable Salesman.

The 1901 census records that Ernest is still living with his parents and some of his siblings at 98 High Street.  Ernest’s occupation just states “Working”.  Stephen, Albert, Florence and Margaret are not recorded at this address.

Ernest married Ethel Kate, nee Lawrence, in 1903 in Southampton.  By the 1911 census Ernest and Kate have a daughter named Vera, born in 1905 in Southampton.  The family were living at 140 Millbrook Road, Southampton.

Ethel was born in 1881 in Shoreditch, London and she died in Southampton in 1961.  She didn’t remarry after Ernest’s death.


War Service
The 13th Battalion was formed at Richmond as a bantam battalion and then moved to Aldershot as part of the 121st Brigade of the 40th Division.  They were moved to Woking on the 2nd April 1916 and absorbed the 18th Sherwood Foresters.  On the 6th June 1916 they were mobilised for war, landing in Le Havre.

They were engaged in various actions on the Western Front including:

In 1916 –  the Battles of Albert, Bazentin Ridge, Delville Wood, Thiepval Ridge, Ancre Heights and The Ancre.

In 1917 entering into 1918 – the Operations on the Ancre, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the third Battle of the Scarpe, the Battle of Pilken Ridge, First Battle of Passchendaele and the Second Battle of Passchendeele.  It is in this last battle that Ernest died in action.

The Battalion saw much more action after this, including a time North Russia where they arrived in Murmansk on the 27th November 1918 to support the ‘White’ Government Army against the ‘Red’ Bolshevik Army at the beginning of the Russian Civil War.

Ernest is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial (Berks Extension) at Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium. He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.


Researcher: Shaun Connolly
Published: 29th May 2014
Updated: Insert dates here

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