We first read about Ernest’s war on 22 June 1917 when the Shipley Times & Express reported:Pte Ernest Kell of the Duke of Wellington’s Regt, younger son of Mr and Mrs Robert Kell of the Old Hall, Esholt, who has been missing since May 3rd, has now written to his parents to inform them that he is in hospital in Germany, suffering from wounds. He is progressing favourably.His only brother, Pte George Kell, has been serving in German East Africa with the Frontiersmen and early in the New Year had an attack of malarial fever.Previous to his enlistment Pte Ernest Kell was employed as a clerk in the Bradford Corporation’s Estate Office at Esholt Hall, whilst his brother was engaged with his father in his business as butcher and farmer.On 27 July, the paper published some of Ernest’s letters home which give a picture of life in a POW camp and also contain plans for the future with his father, who was a farmer and butcher:Pte Ernest Kell of the Duke of Wellington’s Regt, younger son of Mr and Mrs R Kell, The Old Hall, Esholt, who was taken a prisoner, writes to his parents from Germany as follows on May 16th:WoundedPerhaps you will have already heard that I am a prisoner. Well, I was captured on the 3rd of May after being wounded in the left leg which I am sorry to say is broken.The bullet went clean through my leg, hitting the bone at the same time.I am pleased to say I am quite
comfortable. We are in a very nice hospital and the doctors are very good indeed to us.Mother, dear, you must send me a letter and tell me all the news. Let me know how Norman went on.We are allowed to receive parcels so will you kindly send me one? I should like something to read, say a couple of books, two tins of jam, tin of milk, two tablets of soap and the remainder what you think best.Have you had any letters lately from (his brother) George? You promised to send them to me while I was in France. I am sorry to say that I never got them. I suppose also you will have sent the watch I wrote and asked you to get for me. If so, you will be able to get it back. The boys will have enjoyed my parcels but it can’t be helped.It is now a fortnight since we were captured and this is the first chance I have had to write. We are allowed to write two letters a month, on the 15th and 30th, but I don’t expect you will receive them as we write.Well, considering all, I think myself a lucky chap to come through after a scrap like we had. Nearly all my pals were knocked out and it was the biggest wonder in the world that I wasn’t. Thank God I am still alive! I hope that before many weeks have gone by we shall all be at home again.
You mustn’t forget to put plenty of cigarettes in the parcel. A box of Woodbines would be all right and would last a few weeks.Writing on May 30th he says: We are allowed to receive six parcels per month so I hope you won’t forget me. What I should like you to send me is far too much to say as we fancy ourselves eating all sorts of luxuries.AustraliansIf I can get some plain stuff I shall be well satisfied and thankful. After you have sent me one of these parcels or before the winter comes on, I hope you will send me a bundle of underclothes, braces etc.Nearly all the chaps in this ward are Australians so I am gaining some knowledge of farming. Father, get plenty of pig-sties built for when I get home. We have reckoned it up and pigs are the most profitable so that’s my job when I get back if my leg is all right.I hope you will agree with the business. If you don’t, look out for a small farm. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea for George and me to extend the Old Hall farm. You do the buying and selling and we two do the graft. Let me know what you think about it.Tell mother I often think about those good dinners she used to make. Oh for some apple
dumpling! What an appetite I shall have when I get back!When will this terrible war finish? BiscuitsEvery week each Britisher in the hospital is allowed biscuits. Well, we should get them every week but sometimes we miss. Since I came here we have had two lots, each of three half-pound packets sent by Huntley and Palmer’s. Eating those biscuits after having this ‘tucker’ is just like having fruit and custard.On 8 February 1918, the newspapeer reported:Pte Ernest Kell of the Duke of Wellington’s Regt, younger son of Mr and Mrs R Kell of the Old Hall, Esholt, was one of the 320 prisoners of war who were repatriated a few weeks ago.Pte Kell was amongst the first to join the colours in the groups first called up under the Derby Scheme and after training on Salisbury Plain and in Suffolk, went out to France over a year ago.After experiencing much severe fighting he was missing from 3rd May last. The anxieties of his parents were relieved somewhat when they received a letter from him about six weeks later informing them that he was suffering from wounds, a broken leg, and was a prisoner.Thanks to Ancestry we have been able to find that in 1921 Ernest married Doris Mabel Busfield from Guiseley.According to the 1939 survey, when the family was living at Garden Cottage, Esholt Hall, and Ernest was working as the Estate Surveyor, they had a daughter, Joan.