Ernest William Sheward, maternal relative: Passchendaele January 1918

Ernest William Sheward was born during April 1885 at 9 Lion Yard, Lower Mitton, Worcestershire, England and died during the Battle of Psschendaele, January 1918.

Ernest William Sheward was related to me on the Priday side of the family. The actual lineage to me is:

  • Ernest William Sheward (1885 - 1918) - a first cousin, twice removed
  • William Sheward (1859 - 1906) - father of Ernest William Sheward
  • Richard Sheward (1817 - 1870) - father of William Sheward
  • Herbert Sheward (1843 - 1906) - son of Richard Sheward
  • Mary Louisa Sheward (1880 - 1967) - daughter of Herbert Sheward
  • Alice May Priday (1917 - 2009) - daughter of Mary Louisa Sheward
  • William G Hyde - me

His Family

redstone rocks burf endErnest William Sheward's father was William Sheward, born at Burf End, Astley Burf, Worcestershire, England on 29 August 1859. His father, also William, was a Boatman on the River Severn.

Burf End is a complex of caves formed in soft red sandstone cliffs on the banks of the River Severn at Astley Burf. The caves were probably a Stone Age settlement, were used as a hermitage from the Twelfe to Sixteenth centuries. In the 1800's were occupied by families who may otherwise have been homeless. There was an Alehouse, a School, a Chapel, a Refectory (dining hall) & dormitories for the family groups. The caves are still accessible today. although they are no longer lived in.

Nearby Astley Hall was once the country home of Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, British Prime Minister between June 1935 to May 1937.

Ernest William's father, William Sheward was baptised at St Peter's, Astley Burf and after being born at Burf End moved with his parent to a house on Scotts Lane, Astley Burf. By 1881 William had moved to Areley Hall Lodge, Areley Kings, Worcestershire and had taken the trade of Carpet waever.

In 1884, when he was 25, William married Mary Ann Davis at St Bartholomew’s church, Areley Kings, Worcestershire. Mary Ann Davis was born during 1858 at Hook Common, Worcestershire.

William & Mary Ann set up home at 9 Lion Yard, Lower Mitton, Worcestershire where they set about raising a family of 8 children:

  • Ada M Sheward (1884 – ?)
  • Ernest William Sheward (1885 – 1918)
  • Sidney Bernard Sheward (1888 – 1973)
  • Kate Eliza Sheward (1888 – ?)
  • Dennis Clifford Sheward (1891 – 1914)
  • Eva Marian Sheward (1893 – ?)
  • Christopher James Sheward (1896 – 1976)
  • Cyril Sheward (1898 – 1983)

In 1901, William & Mary Ann and their family moved to 14 Milton St, Lower Mitton, Worcestershire and by 1911 they had moved again to 99 Minster Road, Upper Mitton, Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire. 

William Sheward died during December 1942 at Kidderminster, Worcestershire. Mary Ann's death is currently not known.

Ernest William Sheward's Life

Ernest William was born at 9 Lion Yard, Lower Mitton, Worcestershire in April 1885 and Baptised on 9August 1885 at St Bartholomew’s church, Areley Kings, Worcestershire.

His early life was spent with his family at 9 Lion Yard, Lower Mitton, Worcestershire.

In 1908, when he was 23, Ernest William married Laura Bierton on the 4 May at St John's church, Croydon, Surrey, England. Laura Bierton was born on 29 February 1888 in Diddington, Huntingdonshire, England.

Ernest William & Laura set up home intially at 23 London Road, Croydon, Surrey and Ernest was recirded as being a Shop Assistant. Ernest William & Laura had one child, Bessie born in January 1909.

By 1911 Ernest William, Laura & Bessie had moved to 23A Garlands Rd, Redhill, Surrey and Ernest William had become a Grocer's shop assistant. It was at this time that Ernest William, like so many others, joined a local Territorial Force - the Suffolk Regiment. He was a Private and his Reg. No. was 28399.

His Military Life

Regiment 1: Suffok Regiment

The Sufolk Regiment (Territorial Force) was also known as the Duke of York's Own Loyal Suffolk Hussars.

The regiment was formed on the creation of the Territorial Force in April 1908 and placed under orders of the Eastern Mounted Brigade. It was headquartered at Bury St Edmunds with the squadrons being headquartered as follows:

  • A Sqn: Cambridge (with a drill station at Ely)
  • B Sqn: Bury St Edmunds (Eye, Thetford, Sudbury and Stowmarket)
  • C Sqn: Ipswich (Felixstowe, Framlingham and Woodbridge)
  • D Sqn: Beccles (Bungay, Halesworth, Lowestoft and Leiston).

Regiment 2: Essex Regiment

Ernest William joined the 1st Battelion of the Essex Regiment as a Private in December 1914 and was allocated Regimental Number 34981.

1st Battalion WW1 history:

  • August 1914 : in Mauritius. Returned to England in December 1914
  • 18 January 1915 : moved to Banbury and came under orders of 88th Brigade in 29th Division
  • 21 March 1915 : sailed from Avonmouth for Gallipoli, going via Egypt and Mudros. Landed at Cape Helles 25 April 1915
  • 8 January 1916 : evacuated from Gallipoli and moved to Egypt
  • 16 March 1916 : sailed from Alexandria for France
  • 4 February 1918 : transferred to 112th Brigade in 37th Division

I currently do no have Ernest's Army records so am unable to determine whether he was serving in Gallipoli at the same time as his cousin Harold, however if he did join in 1914 when the great Kitchener call went out it is quite likely.

What is known is that Edward William was with the First Battalion, Essex Regiment part of 112th Brigade in the 37th Division at the Second Battle of Passchendaele.

Second Battle of Passchendaele

Nash The Ypres Salient at NightThe German defensive line had been fortified during the months prior to the commencement of this Battle because they expected an attack in that part of the line (or Western Front).

The British advance turned into a battle of 8 phases, inching closer to the Passchendaele Ridge in a series of actions with limited objectives. The capture of the Passchendaele Ridge eventually took over 8 weeks to achieve.

The Third Battle of Ypres comprised 8 phases. Formally called the Third Battle of Ypres, the battle which began on 31st July often takes the name it is more commonly known by, the Battle of Passchendaele, from the First and Second Battles of Passchendaele, which were in fact the last two phases of Third Ypres.

  • Battle of Pilckem Ridge 31 July 1917 - 02 Aug 1917
  • Battle of Langemarck 16 Aug 1917 - 18 Aug 1917
  • Battle of the Menin Road Ridge 20 Sep 1917 - 25 Sep 1917
  • Battle of Polygon Wood 26 Sep 1917 - 03 Oct 1917
  • Battle of Broodseinde 04 Oct 1917
  • Battle of Poelcapelle 09 Oct 1917
  • First Battle of Passchendaele 12 Oct 1917
  • Second Battle of Passchendaele 26 Oct 1917 - 10 Nov 1917

The cost to both sides in human casualties was immense at between 200,000 and 400,000, although exact figures for British and German casualties continue to be a matter of discussion for military historians. The great tragedy for the British Army and the Imperial Forces of Australia, New Zealand and Canada, who suffered so many losses in the fight for the few miles from Ypres to the Passchendaele Ridge, is that only five months later almost all of the ground gained in the mud and horror of the battles for Passchendaele was recaptured by the German Army during its April offensive in 1918.

Ernest William is recorded as being Killed in action on 31 January 1918, when he was 31.

The painting is called The Ypres Salient at Night  and was painted by Paul Nash in his role as an official war artist. Painted in 1918 depicts a landscape well-known to Nash during his active service in the Ypres Salient with the Hampshire Regiment in 1916 and 1917

His Cementry

ew sheward graveErnest William Sheward is buried in the Oxford Road Cementry, which is located to the North-East of the town of Ieper (Ypres), West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Oxford Road was the name given to a road running behind the support trenches, from a point west of the village of Wieltje south-eastwards to the Potijze-Zonnebeke road.

Most of the WW1 dead are either buried close to where they fell or if they are one of the many thousands whose bodies were never found, commemorated at large memorial sites, like the Menin Gate.

Because Ernest is at rest in Oxford Road we can reasonably assume he fell in the area, when the British were back in trenches after the Second Batte of Passchendaele, before the start of the 1918 campaigns.

The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield