We are able to follow many aspects of Ernest (as he was known) Fletcher’s war through the pages of the Shipley Times & Express who on 16 March 1917 reported:Pte Ernest Fletcher, West Yorkshire Regt, son of Mr Chas E Fletcher, formerly of Ashfield, Idle, and now of Scarborough, has been made lance-corporal.Since Christmas he has been at the front in France with his regiment.A month later we learn:L Cpl Ernest Fletcher, a son of Mr Chas E Fletcher, writes that he has visited the grave of the late Pte Robert Hartley, son of Mr and Mrs Robt Hartley, Ellar Carr Road, and planted the mound from top to
bottom with snowdrops.On 25 May 1917 the newspaper carried an ominous story:L Cpl Ernest Fletcher, West Yorkshire Regt, son of Mr Charles E Fletcher of Argyle Villa, Scarborough and formerly of Ashfield House, Thackley, is reported missing.Lieut Ernest W Pearson – son of Mr Walter Pearson of Town Lane, Idle – writing to Mr Fletcher, says: “It is with many regrets that I return your letter addressed to your son, L Cpl E Fletcher. He is posted to us as missing since May 3rd, which day was one of great battle.“He was in my company and I may tell you he was a rattling good
fellow, well-liked by all who came into contact with him. As an NCO Lewis Gunner he knew his job.“I can only say how sorry we are to lose him. I am not able to tell you where at present but it is in the place where a great struggle is going on. The regiment has won for itself a great name over here, thanks to all the brave fellows who died so well.“I do not wish to state definitely as yet but there is a possibility of him being a prisoner of war. I am rather hoping so because we cannot afford to lose such fellows as he. I shall communicate with you as soon as I can gain definite information on him.”L Cpl Fletcher is brother of Miss
Nellie Fletcher of Pellon Terrace, Town Lane, and Mrs Laurie Obank, Corona Terrace, Thackley.Lieutenant Pearson’s hopes were fulfilled for on 6 July the newspaper confirmed that Ernest was indeed a prisoner of war.That was always the hope for families whose loved one had been reported missing but Ernest was still not destined to get home. On 6 December 1918, just before the armistice, we read:The death has taken place at Murren, Switzerland, while interned there, of L Cpl John Ernest Fletcher, West Yorkshire Regt, aged 28, eldest son of the late Mr and Mrs C E Fletcher of Ashfield, Thackley.