of the late Henry and Ann Linfoot of Harewood, near Wetherby.
Ernest was born in 1888 to parents, Henry, occupation, Blacksmith, and Ann Linfoot, the family residence being located
in premises at The Stank, Harewood.
years of Ernest's life would appear to be one of a transient nature moving between members of the family as in the 1891
Census he is recorded along with his mother and sister Elizabeth residing with William his brother at Ripon.
In the 1901 Census, details are unclear possibly due to a typographical error,
that records Ernest residing with his Grandfather at Bondgate, Harewood. An analysis of dates of birth, age etc. of members
of the household possibly suggest that this may actually be his widowed father.
The 1911 Census details however prove to be more concise recording Ernest as a Boarder in premises occupied by one
Faith Gill (nee Clayforth) located at Grafton Square, Wetherby, occupation, a Grocers Assistant.
It is also of interest to note that Faith's son, Walter George Townsend
Clayforth also served in the Great War. Enlisting in the Hussars in September 1914, Walter would serve on the Western Front
from May 1915 until his discharge due to wounds or sickness in March 1918.
Recruitment & Attestation
Ernest attested for service at Wetherby Town Hall on or about the 31st August
1914. The terms of his enlistment were that of a Short Service obligation, i.e., three years with the Colours however it was
also stated that if the War lasted longer than three years, the recruit would be retained until the cessation of hostilities.
As the men waited to enlist, Army protocol
dictated had the prospective recruit received Notice and understood its meaning and who gave the Notice to them. On confirmation
by the potential recruit, Army Form B. 2065 was first signed by Rowland Meyrick, the issuer of the Notice before recruitment
could commence. The latter had proved to be very brisk, principally due to the efforts of a number of individuals, but it
was Mr. Rowland Meyrick, a Land Agent for the Montague estates, that was the major protagonist encouraging many a young Wetherby
man or those resident in the town to "take the King's shilling."
A newspaper article dated September 1914 provides an insight as to his activities as an unpaid Recruitment Officer;
"Day and night he
worked with the greatest enthusiasm and wherever young men were, in the cottage, in the harvest field and street, there he
was to be found, exercising his persuasive powers and the young men answered nobly to his call.
Some men at first however, had their reservations on joining the Colours;
One young fellow, anxious to enlist,
was troubled about throwing up his work and he went to Mr. Meyrick. Would he guarantee him work when he returned home? The
answer was thoroughly satisfactory, and the young fellow is probably now clad in khaki. That is the way to get recruits."
Concerns prior to enlistment
were also raised for the soldiers dependants, therefore, Wetherby Steeplechase Committee made the following offer to both
stimulate and encourage recruitment. A further newspaper article dated September 1914 declared;
"The Wetherby Steeplechase Committee have announced that they will
give 1 shilling a week each to the wives of men who have joined the Colours, and any others volunteering in the town, in order
to augment the Army allowance while they are on service."
Agreeing that he now understood the terms of his engagement, Ernest now declared that all his answers to questions
declared on the Army Form were true and that he was willing to fulfill the engagements made. On signing the document, it was
witnessed by John McEvitt, a former soldier who had served with the 1st Battalion, Connaught Rangers and a veteran of the
Boer War. Former Colour Sergeant McEvitt in civilian life was the Caretaker of the Conservative Club located in the Market
Place, who, although recorded in the 1911 Census as an Army Pensioner, fulfilled the roll of Acting Recruitment Sergeant.
A preliminary medical examination was now
conducted by Lieutenant Harry Winstanley Shadwell of the Royal Army Medical Corps to determine vital statistics; height, weight
expansion of the chest etc. Deemed 'fit' as the vast majority of men were at this early stage of enlistment, the final
signature that would approve the man for military service was that of the Approving Officer, 14th Recruiting Area, Colonel
Harold P. Ditmas, late Durham Royal Garrison Artillery (Militia). That final signature would witness over forty-five recruits
from the locality joining the ranks of the fledgeling 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, the first Service
battalion of the Regiment to be raised as a response to the outbreak of the Great War.
In the first week of September, the men prior to leaving for the Regimental Depot located at York were entertained
to a dinner by the townsfolk of Wetherby. After the event and bidding their farewells, the men of 'Kitchener's Army'
were conveyed to York in a fleet of motor-cars amidst, what was described as, "much scenes of jubilation and enthusiasm."
Of the men, many would never return.
9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment was formed at York on the 25th August 1914 and designated a K 1 Battalion
as formed under Lord Kitchener's first 'Call to Arms,' an appeal for 100,000 men to join the Army for 3 years
or for the duration of the War between the ages of 19 and 30 years. The Battalion was contained in the 11th (Northern) Division,
a New Army Division which was formed under Army Order No. 324 published on the 21st August, 1914. This order approved of the
addition to the Army of six divisions, the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th respectively.
The 9th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, Officer Commanding,
Lieutenant-Colonel George Frend (attached from the 3rd Battalion, West Yorkshire's) formed part of the 32nd Infantry Brigade
that also comprised of the following units:
6th (Service) Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards)
6th (Service) Battalion, Yorks & Lancs Regiment
8th (Service) Battalion, West Riding Regiment (Duke of Wellington's)
Brigade Commander Brigadier-General Henry Haggard
Divisional Commander Major-General Frederick Hammersley C.B.
Basic training ensued for the recruits from Wetherby at the Regimental Depot
where they became accustomed to the vagaries of life in the British Army. Possibly the first blow to patriotic 'fervour'
was the issuing of a Serial Number to each man, an individual in civilian life but now a number throughout his service in
the Army. It is of interest to note that the numbers issued to the recruits from Wetherby follow no alphabetical sequence
as is sometimes the case. An analysis therefore conducted of this specific batch of numbers issued reveal that proceeding
William the number 11876 was allocated to Francis Hodgson of Wetherby, the number following on from Ernest, to Frederick Byrom.
Both 'Frank' and 'Fred' would unfortunately be killed during the course of the Great War.
York at this juncture with the Depot processing more men that had answered
the 'Call to Arms' was now fit to bursting point with men. Therefore a move to larger training facilities located
at Belton Park near Grantham, Lincolnshire, was initiated in September by the 9th West Yorkshire's where they were joined
by the remainder of the Brigade.
this movement, a second medical examination, more thorough than the initial examination that had been carried out on Attestation
was conducted in mid October. Many men from Wetherby were discharged due to either being found to be medically unfit with
conditions ranging from chronic bronchitis to a hernia, or, just a lack of general ability. The latter men in Army 'parlance'
were "Discharged not being likely to become an efficient soldier," their departure being confirmed by the
Adjutant, Captain Alexander Geary-Smith.
analysis of Army Pension Records reveal that of the men who had enlisted at Wetherby Town Hall in August 1914, 6 were medically
discharged who had a direct link to the town in addition to one man from Kirk Deighton. Some of these discharged men would
eventually serve in some military capacity as the War progressed.
The winter of 1914 and the spring of 1915 were most notably wet resulting in the camp at Belton Park turning into
a veritable quagmire. By the end of February, all ranks had been issued 1914 Pattern Equipment, made under contract in the
United States and despite the weather, the training programme proceeded apace.
By late March orders had been issued warning of an impending move away from Lincolnshire. On the 5th April 1915,
the 9th West Yorkshire's, in Brigade and Division, were ordered to entrain at Rugby, the destination being Witley Camp,
near Godalming, Surrey. Departing Belton Park on this date, the Brigade in Division proceeded by route of march via Scalford,
Thrussington and Whetstone reaching Rugby on the 8th. Here the Brigade entrained during the following day after an eventful
march. An account of this may be found in the Green Howards In The Great War by H.C. Wylly. 'The Optimist'
as the recorder of these events is referred to in the account writes;
"Our march on Wednesday took us through Leicester where the Division
was accorded a really wonderful reception; all work was suspended and the streets were lined by an enthusiastic and cheering
multitude who showered all kinds of gifts on the troops."
Settling into their new surroundings 'The Optimist' remarked that the change of weather and that
of the scenery was most welcome. he also noted that the extensive heathland and commons so characteristic of the area proved
to be more conducive for military manoeuvres as the men were about to experience.
The camp consisted at this stage of the War primarily of tented accommodation with a few huts but the camp would
rapidly expand and become more permanent as the conflict progressed.
On the 1st May 1915, the 11th (Northern) Division played host to two most distinguished visitors, namely, His Majesty
the King who was also accompanied by Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War. After inspecting the men, the following Divisional
Order was issued an extract of which is quoted in Wylly's History;
"His Majesty the King has desired the G.O.C. to convey to the troops
his appreciation of the splendid appearance and steadiness of the men on parade yesterday. His Majesty also remarked on the
good condition of the horses. Finally His Majesty said to the G.O.C., "It has been a very great pleasure to me to see
such a splendid body of men, and I desire you to so inform the troops."
The month of May would also witness a change of command when Colonel Frend
was replaced by another officer also from the ranks of the 3rd Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel John
O'Brien Minogue. An experienced officer who had risen through the ranks, Minogue had served with a variety of regiments
during the course of his service career however the Colonel did possess an affiliation to the West Yorkshire Regiment dating
back to 1893.
Towards the end of June there
must have been rumours of an impending move to active service circulating as the American equipment previously issued to the
men was withdrawn and replaced by the British made 1908 Pattern Webbing. Suspicions were no doubt aroused further when all
the men were issued with khaki drill and helmets of the 'Foreign Service' variety, the latter also referred to as
Ernest and the men of
the West Yorkshire's were soon to have their suspicions confirmed when orders were issued to the 32nd Infantry Brigade
and the Division at 3 p.m. on the afternoon of the 31st June to prepare for entrainment the following day, destination, as
yet unknown to the men, was to be the Dardanelles. For a comprehensive account of the actions of the 9th (Service) Battalion,
West Yorkshire Regiment during the Dardanelles Campaign, the reader may wish to follow this link: