Ernest Buckle was born on the 10th November 1895 in Eccleshill, the son of John William Buckle and Ann, nee Smith. John was working as a weaver and the family were living at The Bank, Eccleshill. By 1911 the family were living at 18 Carr Wood Terrace, Greengates. Ernest at 15 years of age was a millhand in a worsted spinning mill.Ernest enlisted on the 7th of September 1914 as Private 14518 in the 8th Battalion of the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. His Battalion landed in Boulogne in August 1915.Soldiers writing home often sought to calm the anxieties of those at home by sending a confident message and Ernest did just that in a letter reproduced in the Shipley Times & Express on 27 August 1915:Pte Ernest Buckle of Greengates was about to set off to the trenches for the first time when he wrote to his parents:‘Just a line to let you know we are going out to the Front on Wednesday. We have had a good long stay in England but it is over now and we have had everything issued necessary for active service.‘Well I can tell you that your son is going out with a very good heart and plenty of confidence that he will come back again all right.‘You would be surprised if you could hear the lads talk about going out. They might be going to a football match or something like
that!‘In fact I don’t think there is a happier set in the whole British Army.‘I don’t know that I can tell you anything else except that I am very happy and I hope that you are not troubling about me because something seems to tell me that I shall pull through all right.‘If you hear from me within a fortnight you will know that I am going to the French Front. If, on the other hand, a month elapses before you hear, you will know that my destination is the Dardanelles.’There was a similar tone in a letter quoted on 11 February 1916:An interesting letter has been received from Pte Ernest Buckle of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, second son of Mr and Mrs J W Buckle of 18 Carr Wood Terrace.He enlisted on 7th of September 1914 and went to the Front in August 1915.In the course of the letter Pte Buckle says: “We are not downhearted. The Germans have suffered heavily during the last few weeks. We frequently see the German trenches being blown up by our Jack Johnsons. The Germans are only 100 yards away from us.”Later that year, Ernest was involved in the battle on the Somme
and we see two more reports in the newspaper:Mr and Mrs J W Buckle of Carr Bottom Terrace, Idle, received a telegram to tell them their youngest son, Pte Ernest Buckle, of the Duke of Wellington’s Regt, had been seriously wounded. ‘Pte Buckle is only 20 years of age.’The couple had another son, Pte Harry Buckle, who was training with the Royal Field Artillery.Shipley Times & Express 7-7-1916The news that Pte Ernest Buckle, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, son of Mr and Mrs J W Buckle of Carrbottom Terrace, Greengates, had succumbed to his wounds was received with keen regret in the village.The flag at the Liberal Club was hoisted at half-mast as a token of respect.Pte Buckle was wounded a week or two ago and on that occasion he was visited by his father and mother. It was hoped at that time that he would make a good recovery.He died however, on July 31st, following an operationHis parents, who had been urgently summoned to his side, were unable to reach him in time.In a letter to his distressed mother, the matron of the hospital says: “I
am very sorry that you and Mr Buckle were not able to get out in time to see your son. We sent a wire to the War Office.“It was found necessary to amputate your son’s leg and he died from general shock and extreme weakness. He did not suffer and this will be some comfort to you. We did all we could for him.“He sent many messages to his father and mother and he had high hopes that he would have been able to get over to see them.“He had a full military funeral. Flowers were sent by the Sgt Major. N.C.O. and all the men of the hospital and a wreath was also sent by the nursing staff.“He died quietly at 10.35 p.m. on July 31st and the funeral took place on August 2nd.“I feel very much sympathy for you in your sad loss.”A brother of the deceased soldier, Pte Harry Buckle, is also serving with the colours.Shipley Times & Express 11 August 1916Ernest is buried at St Sever Cemetery, Rouen. During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen and the great majority of the dead were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever. In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension.Ernest left his effects to his father John William who received £8.6.5d on the 17th November 1916. His War Gratuity of £8.10s was sent to his mother Ann as sole legatee on the 2nd October 1919.
Thanks to Jean Britteon for her help in researching Ernest’s story