Private Ernest William Matthews
8890, 3rd Bn. Yorkshire Regiment who died on 13 September 1917
Ernest William Matthews was born in 1890, the second of the seven children of Thomas and Ellen Ludlum (nee Perkins). Thomas worked as a framework knitter but as this business began to die in Oadby he appears to have transferred to glove knitting.
Thomas and Ellen had married in 1860. Ellen was the daughter of Samuel Perkins and Caroline Ludlum. The family lived on London Road, Oadby until Ellen’s death in 1910.
The 1911 census records the Thomas and the children living at 17 East Street, Oadby next door to their cousins, also Matthews, at number 18 (at this time house numbers in Oadby ran consecutively rather than alternatively). By 1916 Ernest’s family had moved to Leicester Road. The extended Matthews family were members of Oadby Baptist Church and Ernest, along with his brothers and cousins attended the Adult School.
Oadby Adult School C1910
Ernest was a regular soldier before the First World War, having enlisted on 24 May 1907 in the 1st Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment, at the age of 18 years and one month. He gave his profession as shoe hand. He received two good conduct badges and a certificate of education, 3rd Class. Ernest served in Egypt from January 1908 to March 1911 when he returned for home service with the 2nd Battalion.
Men of the 2nd Bn., Yorkshire Regiment photographed at Guernsey Camp in 1913
At the outbreak of war the 2nd Battalion was stationed on Guernsey and was recalled for overseas service as part of the British Expeditionary Force on 4 August 1914. The battalion returned to England and landed at Southampton on 28 August. It came under orders of 21 Brigade, 7th Division, and crossed the English Channel for Zeebrugge on 6 October 1914.
Ernest’s service with the British Expeditionary Force was to last just 30 days. On 3 November he was severely wounded in the leg during the fierce fighting at the First Battle of Ypres. He was transported to England on 4 November 1914 and was admitted to the 3rd London General Hospital.
Almost a year later, on 11 December 1915, he was discharged from hospital and returned to Oadby to recuperate. However, the wound to his leg became ulcerated, causing suppuration and requiring further surgery which left Ernest totally incapacitated.
Silver War Badge
Ernest’s service record shows that he was discharged from the army ‘as no longer fit for war service’ on 5 January 1916. On the 8 January 1916 he entered the Royal Hospital, Chelsea for further treatment. He was awarded a Silver War Badge on 7 October 1916. The Silver War Badge was awarded to honourably discharged soldiers whose wounds rendered them incapable of further war service.
Thirty six months after his original injury Ernest finally died of his wounds in hospital on 13 September 1917. His body was returned to his family and he is Buried with Honour at Oadby Cemetery.
Ernest Matthews is one of several Oadby men who returned from the war permanently physically maimed. Those who died of their wounds or illnesses before the erection of the Oadby War Memorial have their names recorded. But others, particularly those affected by gas attacks such as Walter Clarke, suffered for many more years before finally succumbing to gas gangrene of the lungs.
Private Ernest William Matthews is Buried with Honour at Oadby Cemetery. He is also honoured on the Oadby War Memorial and on the Memorial Tablet in Oadby Baptist Church.
Ernest’s headstone in Oadby Cemetery
The Memorial Tablet in Oadby Baptist Church
Ernest’s brothers Albert and Edgar and his cousins Harry and Samuel Matthews all served during the war.
Brother Edgar died of dysentery in October 1916 whilst serving with the 2nd Bn, Leicestershire Regiment in Mesopotamia.
Ernest’s brother Edgar Clarence Matthews