Ernest Edward Williamson, maternal relative: Battle of St. Quentin

Ernest Edward Williamson (1881 - 1918) was the brother in law of the an uncle of the wife of one of first cousins tweice removed on my mothers side of the family.

His precise relationship to me:

  • Ernest Edward Williamson (1881 - 1918) - brother-in-law of uncle of wife of 1st cousin 2x removed
  • Edward Williamson (1840 - 1919) - father of Ernest Edward Williamson
  • Emma Rose Williamson (1883 - 1961) - daughter of Edward Williamson
  • James Bierton (1879 - 1949) - husband of Emma Rose Williamson
  • Ellen Owen (1855 - 1928) - mother of James Bierton
  • Albert Bierton (1867 - unknown death date) - son of Ellen Owen
  • Laura Bierton (1888 - unknown death date) - daughter of Albert Bierton
  • Ernest William Sheward (1885 - 1918) - husband of Laura Bierton
  • 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 - my maternal grandmother
  • Alice May Priday (1917 - 2009) - daughter of Mary Louisa Sheward - my mother
  • William G Hyde - me

His Family

Ernest was born during January 1881 in Royston, Hertfordshire, England and was the from the large family of Edward Williamson (1840 - 1919) & Mary Ann Cherry (1844 - 1926). There were 15 children in total, 8 boys and 7 girls. Ernest was a Painter & Decorator.

His father, Edward, was a Shoemaker originally from St Ives, Huntingdonshire, England. Edward's father, Samuel (1817 - 1866) was from  Rayleigh, Essex, England and was an Agricultural labourer.

His Regiment

The records show that Ernest was a Private (number 51857) in the 2nd Battelion of the Suffolk Regiment, however he was shown as being number 18428 in the 1st Battelion of the Suffolk's when he first joined the Army.

World War One Record of the 2nd Battalion

  • 4 Aug. 1914: Stationed at Curragh, Ireland as part of the 14th Brigade of the 5th Division
  • 17 Aug 1914: Mobilised for war and landed at Le Havre (France) and engaged in action at The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, and The Battle of Le Cateau where the Battalion suffered over 700 casualties
  • 30 Sep 1914: Moved to G.H.Q.
  • 25 Oct 1914: Transferred to the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division
  • Winter Operations 1914-15: The First attack on Bellewaarde, The actions of Hooge and The second attack on Bellewaarde
  • 22 Oct 1915: Transferred to the 76th Brigade of the 3rd Division
  • During 1916: The actions of the Bluff and St Eloi Craters, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bazentin, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of the Ancre
  • During 1917: The First, Second and Third Battles of the Scarpe, The Battle of Arleux, The Battle of the Menin Road, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Cambrai
  • During 1918: The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The First Battle of Arras 1918, The Battle of Estaires, The Battle of Hazebrouck, The Battle of Bethune, The Battle of Albert, The Second Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The  second Battle of Cambrai, The Battle of the Selle
  • 11 Nov 1918: Ended the war in France, La longueville east of Bavai

Ernest Edward Williamson was Killed in action during the 1918 Battle of St. Quentin Canal.

Battle of St. Quentin Canal

The Battle of St Quentin Canal was a pivotal battle of World War I that began on 29 September 1918 and involved British, Australian and American forces in the spearhead attack and as a single combined force against the German Siegfried Stellung of the Hindenburg Line.

Under the command of Australian general Sir John Monash, the assault achieved all its objectives, resulting in the first full breach of the Hindenburg Line, in the face of heavy German resistance and, in concert with other attacks of the Great Offensive along the length of the line convinced the German high command that the writing was on the wall regarding any hope of German victory.

The British High Command had fully realised that any success against the formidable defences of the Hindenburg Line could only be achieved with the use of tanks.

stquentinfrance1918On 29 September, the Australian Corps attacked, with the addition of two American Divisions from the American II Corps (the US 27th and 30th Divisions), supported by approximately 150 tanks of the 4th and 5th tank brigades (including the newly trained American 301st Heavy Tank Battalion). The US divisions launched the initial attack, with the Australian 3rd and 5th Divisions intended to "leapfrog" through the American forces. The inexperienced Americans did not clear German positions as effectively as they might have (due to the confusion created during the attack on 27 September). This forced the advancing Australians to fight for the ground that the Americans were planned to have already taken. In the confusion of battle, some American pockets that had been left without effective leadership willingly went along with the Australians as they advanced and there are documented accounts of soldiers from both nations fighting alongside each other in ad-hoc mixed outfits.

The British 46th Division crossed the St Quentin Canal (defended by fortified machine gun positions), capturing 4200 German prisoners (out of a total for the army of 5300). Men of the 1/6th Battalion, the North Staffordshire Regiment, led by Captain A. H. Charlton, seized the Riqueval Bridge over the canal on 29 September before the Germans could fire the explosive charges.

On September 30th the 2nd Battalion The Suffolk Regiment move up into trenches between Ribecourt and Marcoing in readiness for the attack on Rumilly on the following morning. The 2/Suffolks were on the left of the 76th Brigade attack which was only partially successful. The front and support trenches were strongly held by the enemy with machine-guns. However, over 300 prisoners were taken and many Germans killed. The left Company of the Suffolks had heavy casualties from front and flank machine-gun fire and had lost the barrage. The right Company, shielded by the contours of the ground, was able to drive through the village to a trench beyond. They killed and captured many more enemy. Casualties suffered: about 180, including 1 Oficer killed and 3 wounded

On 2 October the British 46th and 32nd Division supported by the Australian 2nd Division planned to capture the Beaurevoir Line (the 3rd line of defences of the Hindenburg Line), the village of Beaurevoir and the heights overlooking the Beaurevoir Line. While the attack succeeded in widening the breach in the Beaurevoir Line, it was unable to seize the high ground further on. However, by 2 October, the attack had resulted in a 17 km breach in the Hindenburg Line. By any measure, and especially by World War I standards, it was a stunning and swift victory.

Continuing attacks from 3 to 10 October (including the 2nd Division capturing Montbrehain on 5 October and the British 25th Division capturing the village of Beaurevoir on 5/6 October) managed to clear the fortified villages behind the Beaurevoir Line, and capture the heights overlooking the Beaurevoir Line – resulting in a total break in the Hindenburg Line.

Ernest Edward Williamson was Killed in action on 1 October 1918 in the attack on the German held trenches at Rumilly.

williamson vis-en-artoisCemetery

Ernest Edward Williamson is recorded on Panel 4 at the Memorial in Vis-en-Artois, Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, suggesting there was insufficient of a body to put in a proper grave.

He was one of the many 1000's whse passing was recorded but whose body was totally destroyed by the conflict.

Vis-en-Artois and Haucourt are villages on the straight main road from Arras to Cambrai about 10 kilometres south-east of Arras.

The Memorial is the back drop to the Vis-en-Artois British Cemetery, which is west of Haucourt on the north side of the main road.