Ernest Cresswell, Private 9227, A Coy 2nd Battalion Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 2nd March 1915 at Wulverghem, Belgium, aged 23
Ernest Cresswell was born in Macclesfield in November 1891, the son of Rachel and Walter Fred Cresswell, a silk hand loom weaver, of 26 Higginbotham Green. Ernest attended the London Road School in 1898.
In 1901, Ernest was living at 69 Old Mill Lane, Macclesfield with his parents and siblings Walter F., Ada, Samuel, Alberta, John, Nellie and Alice, and his maternal grandfather Edward Thornley.
At the age of 17, Ernest attested at Macclesfield on 22nd December 1908 and was placed in the Cheshire Special Reserve. At that time he was employed in the braid making industry. He remained with this unit until he enlisted into the regular army on 16th June 1909 at Conway, North Wales. He was five feet five inches tall, weighed 112lbs with a 34 inch chest measurement, fresh complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. He had a mole at the back of his neck and another on his right arm; he also had tattoos of a sailor and a woman with clasped hands on his right arm and a horse with crossed whips on his left arm. His character whilst serving with the Special Reserve was “good”.
His service took him initially to Northern Ireland; whilst there, in April 1910, he received fillings to seven teeth. He was reprimanded for “Having a dirty rifle”, and “Allowing his bayonet to become rusty”. Further reprimands followed during 1910 and 1911 for such things as: “Making an improper reply to an N.C.O.”, “Neglect of duty”, “Absent from tattoo”, “Not packing his kit when ordered”, and “Purchasing goods from hawkers”. 1912 did not get off to a good start, as he was reprimanded for being “Improperly dressed in town” on 1st January, and three further reprimands followed during that year. All these offences were punished by between 3 and 8 days “Confined to Barracks”.
An inquiry was held in Belfast on 17th December 1910 into the circumstances under which Ernest sustained an injury on 13th December. The following evidence was given:
Private Cresswell stated, “I was playing in a company football match, I fell over the ball and sprained my wrist… admitted to hospital for this injury the following day”.
Private Lamb stated, “I was playing in a company football match, I saw Private Cresswell fall over the ball, he showed his wrist afterwards and said he had hurt it falling”.
The verdict was that Ernest had suffered a severe sprain to the left wrist, but it did not occur while he was on military duty. He spent 8 days in hospital recuperating from the injury.
On 12th September 1912 Ernest married Margaret A. Laughran at St Patrick’s Church, Belfast, and on 15th October 1912, the army was informed of his change in religious denomination from Church of England to that of Roman Catholic (no doubt this was a requirement of his marriage).
Ernest then served in India from 18th October 1912 until 18th November 1914. Whilst at Jubbulpore in India he had a stoppage of pay, at the rate of six pence per day, placed on him from August 1913 “for the support of his wife”. Ernest spent a total of 29 days in hospital in Jubbulpore during July and November 1914, suffering from Malaria. The treatment for this was Quinine and Arsenic.
Ernest returned from India in late 1914 and embarked for France with the British Expeditionary Force on 16th January 1915, arriving at the Ypres Salient in February. The 2nd Battalion was in the 84th Brigade, 28th Division, and they immediately began to experience heavy casualties. Ernest was killed in action on 2nd March 1915 at Wulverghem in Belgium, aged 23 years.
After the end of the war, Ernest’s wife lived in Coatbridge, Scotland.
Private Ernest Cresswell is buried in grave ref. I. A. 23. in Wulverghem-Lindenhoek Road Military Cemetery in Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Ernest Cresswell, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Ernest Cresswell is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church, St George’s Church and the Spiritualist Church war memorials.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words “From the Spiritualist Free Church, Cumberland Street, in memory of E. Bailey, A. Birch, E. Cresswell, A. Goodwin, A. Hurst, W. Slater, and T. Proctor.”