Ernest Bradley, Private 58230, 16th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 22nd October 1917 in Belgium, aged 18
Ernest Bradley was born in the village of Rainow on 28 October 1898, the youngest child and only son of Thomas Bradley (a hat maker) and Ann Maria (nee Hudson). The family lived at Sugar Lane, Rainow and Ernest was christened at the parish church on 25th March 1903.
Ernest’s father died in 1910 and in early 1911 the family moved to Macclesfield, where Ernest was enrolled at St George’s Church of England School, having previously attended Rainow school. At the time of the 1911 census, twelve year old Ernest, sister Hetty and their recently widowed mother, were living at the home of his uncle, Joseph Hazeldine (a widower), at 29 Bridge Street, Macclesfield.
Ann Maria Bradley and Joseph Hazeldine were subsequently married in May 1912 and the expanded family moved the short distance to 23 St. George’s Street.
Ernest was too young to enlist when war broke out in August 1914, but his service record shows that he volunteered at Macclesfield on 19th September 1916 and was placed on the army reserve. He was described as 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighed just 95 pounds and had a chest measurement of 30 inches. His physical development was said to be “Poor”, and he had a number of decayed teeth. At the time of enlistment he was employed as a bleacher.
Ernest embarked from Southampton on 11th January 1917, arriving at Havre the following day and at Rouen on the 14th. He joined the 16th Cheshire Regiment on 25th January.
The night of the 21st/22nd October was bitterly cold and the rain fell heavily. Ernest and his comrades were perished and their mood did not not improve when the Battalion’s rum and tea supplies did not reach the front line… At 5.30am, the advance got underway through a mass of water filled shell holes.
Ernest was declared ‘missing’ on the 22nd October 1917, and was subsequently classified as ‘killed in action’.
His death was announced in the Macclesfield Times on 6 September 1918:
Mrs Hazeldine, 23 St George’s St, Macclesfield, has received an official intimation presuming the death of her only son, Signaller Ernest Bradley, Cheshire Regt, who had been posted as missing since October 22nd, 1917. Pte N B Lovatt, of the same battalion, whose home address is 64, Vincent St, Macclesfield, has given the following statement to the British Red Cross and Order of St John, in response to their inquiries as to Bradley’s whereabouts: “Ernest Bradley, a Signaller, was my friend. At Passchendaele, in the morning of October 22, after I had been wounded, Bradley came to me and told me he would try and get a stretcher for me after he had been to headquarters. Later… a Company runner came and told me Bradley had been wounded – a large flesh wound – and that they were going to try and get a stretcher and take him out first. I was lying out for 2½ days.” In forwarding this statement, last April, to Mrs Hazeldine, the authorities added, “We cannot help fearing that it is impossible now to look for good news.” Lovatt… was subsequently treated in a London hospital and afterwards became a patient at the Hurdsfield House Hospital.
Born in Rainow, Signaller Bradley first attended the Rainow Church day and Sunday Schools, and on coming to live in Macclesfield, was a scholar at St George’s School. Later he became a scholar of St Peter’s Young Men’s Bible Class. He… worked at the Gorton tank, but at the time of enlistment was employed at Bollington. Signaller Bradley joined the Army on Oct 30th, 1916, on his 18th birthday and after ten weeks’ training at Birkenhead was drafted out to France. Two days before he was reported wounded and missing he wrote to his mother stating that he was expecting to be home for his 19th birthday, and that he had received his pass. Leave was, however, on this occasion cancelled, and nothing further was heard…
Private Ernest Bradley has no known grave and is commemorated on panel ref. 61-63 on the Tyne Cot Memorial, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Ernest Bradley, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Private Ernest Bradley is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church, St George’s Church and St Peter’s Church war memorials. Elsewhere, he is commemorated on Rainow war memorial.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
WW1 British Army Service Records 1914-1920
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 6 September 1918, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)