Ernest Page

Date of birth: 1886
Place of birth: Durban, South Africa
Service No.: 31243
Rank: Lance Sergeant
Regiment / Division: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Battalion: 7th/8th
Died: 21st March 1918 aged 32 years
Death location: Templeux-le-Guerad British Cemetery, Somme (Plot II, A28)

 

Life before the War
Ernest was the fourth of 10 siblings born to James Arthur Page and Louisa Mary Page (nee Lynch).

James was born in Little Bentley, Essex in 1853.  He appears to have spent much of his youth in Essex before travelling overseas in April 1881.  He married Mary, in India, in the same year and their first child was born in Singapore on 23rd April 1883.

James joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, as a Sergeeant Major, on 11th April 1885.

Ernest’s 9 siblings were:

Florence b. 23.4.1883 in Singapore; d. 28.8.1915 in Southampton.
Married Robert Ross-White in St James Church, Shirley on 25.8.1909. They had 2 daughters.
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Arthur b. July 1884 in Singapore; d. 9.8.1916 in Belgium.  To read more of Arthur’s story select the link to his name.
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Laura b. 1885 in Singapore; d. unknown but was in Cape Town in 1915.
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Cyril b. 1887/1888 in Cape Town; d. 5.12.1917 in France. To read more of Cyril’s story select the link to his name.
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Percival Edmund b. 5.11.1889 in Portsmouth; d. 1978 in Southampton.
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Gertrude Lilian b. 9.6.1891 in Omagh; d.22.3.1976 in Southampton.
Married Robert Ross-White (her sister’s widower) June 1916 in Southampton. They had one son.
xxxxx xxxxx
Gladys Irene b. 1893 in Omagh; d. unknown but living in Southampton in 1918.
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Harold Noel b. June 1896 in Omagh; d. 1942 in Wellington, New South Wales.
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Violet Dorothy b. January 1901 in Southampton; d. July 1901.

 

War Service
There are very few records of Ernest’s early life.  It can be assumed he spent his early childhood with the rest of the family, initially living in Portsmouth on their return to the UK in 1889.

The whole family then moved to Omagh in Northern Ireland during 1890 / 1891; this would have been because of James’ commission with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers which was based in the country.

The 1901 census shows the family living in Mullingar in Co.Westmeath in Eire.

Ernest enlisted in his father’s regiment whilst in Eire, as a Private.  He initially joined the 1st Battalion and spent approximately five years in Ireland.

R.I.F. in Tientsin

R.I.F. in Tientsin

 

During 1909 the 1st Battalion was despatched to China, via Malta.  Along with some battalions from other European countries they were sent to quell a rebellion and guard UK interests.  The battalion arrived in Tientsin, North China in the November of 1909.

Ernest would have not seen any action in his 2 years in China.  Negotiation, rather than violence, always seemed to win the day.  In December 1911 the Battalion left for India.

 

 

The UK 1911 census (all forces’ personnel were required to give information wherever they were in the world) shows Ernest as a Private, single, and 25 years old.  It is presumed that soon after this he was promoted to Lance Sergeant – an appointment, rather than a known rank, he would have received his three stripes but the pay of a Corporal.  It was seen as a step toward promotion.

1st Battalion were based at Meadow Barracks near Secunderabad (right in the middle of the country) over Christmas 1912.  It is presumed that this was yet another period of relative inactivity.

The Battalion left Bombay on 15th December 1914 arriving in Southampton in early January 1915.  It is not known if Ernest had the opportunity to visit his family in Shirley because the Battalion was sent to Finner Camp, Ballyshannon in Co. Donegal and was there until at least the September of that year.

Prior to the movement to France, Ernest was presumably transferred to the 7th / 8th Battalion.  His unit landed in France in February 1916 and was despatched to the Somme.

During a spell of leave in October 1917 Ernest returned to Ireland.  This is known because he married Agnes White on the 17th of that month at the Trinity Church of Ireland in Belfast.  He was 32 and Agnes was a 34 year old local spinster.  The certificate actually states next to Ernest’s name that he is a soldier based in France!

It is not known if Agnes stayed with her family in Belfast but Ernest was soon back at the Somme. This was a period of gains for the British Army in the area but this was soon to change with the start of the “Kaiserschlost” (Kaiser’s Battle) across many fronts on 21st March 1918.

7th / 8th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers were based near the village of Templeux-le-Guerad on that day.  A huge artillery onslaught began at 07.00 and this accounted for  the loss of nearly 20 thousand Allied troops, including the newly-married Ernest.

Interestingly, the scale of casualties on that fateful day is measured by the fact that Ernest was one of 10 Page’s to meet their end on that one day.

Ernest's medals.

Ernest’s medals.

 

EP Star

Ernest was awarded the Star, Victory medal and British War medal.

 

Interestingly, his 1914-15 Star has his rank as Corporal inscribed on it.

 

 

Ernest was buried at the local cemetery, which has now become the Templeux-le Guerad British Cemetery.  He can be found in Plot II,  grave A.28.

Ernest's gravestone.

Ernest’s gravestone.

 

Researcher: Mark Heritage
Published.: 11th August 2014
Updated: Insert dates here

If you have any additional information about the person named above please complete the Comments section below.

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