SERVICE NO: 3332
YEAR OF BIRTH: 1891
PLACE OF BIRTH: Guildford
DATE OF ENLISTMENT: 28 July 1915
PLACE OF ENLISTMENT: Brisbane
AGE AT ENLISTMENT: 23
UNIT: 2nd Australian Field Ambulance (late 9th Battalion, 11th Reinforcements)
EMBARKED: 21 October 1915
TROOPSHIP: HMAT A48 Seang Bee
FATE: Died of Wounds – 27 September 1917 – Lijssenthoek, Belgium
Ernest Emmett, a son of John Emmett and Harriet Matilda Corse was born on 12 February 1891 at Guildford near Castlemaine. Married in 1875, Ernest’s parents had previously lived in Hamilton but moved to Central Victoria in the 1880s. In time, the Emmetts returned to Hamilton and resided in Gray Street. Ernest worked as a labourer and by 1914 at the age of twenty-three, he was living in College Street. War broke and Ernest’s, brother Robert enlisted on 16 November 1914. His sister-in-law Mary’s brother, William Peach enlisted on 10 May 1915.
By July 1915, Ernest was in Brisbane and he enlisted there. The Hamilton Spectator reported in May 1915 Ernest had joined the Navy the year before, however, there is no record of his joining the navy nor did he mention his naval service in his attestation paper filled in at enlistment, He did, however, in sailor style have a tattoo of the Australian flag on his right arm.
During October 1915, Ernest left for Egypt with the 9th Battalion, 11 Reinforcements. He transferred to the 49th Battalion on 29 February 1916 in Egypt. Earlier in the month in Hamilton, Ernest’s mother died. The 49th Battalion left for France arriving at Marseilles on 12 June 1916. Ernest transferred to the 2nd Field Ambulance joining his brother Robert on 10 July 1916 in Sailly, France, before moving on to Vadencourt.
Ernest went on leave on 14 July 1917 and returned on 4 August while the 2nd Field Ambulance were near Bailluel evacuating the sick of the 2nd Infantry Brigade. On 14th September they moved to Wippenhoek, west of Ypres, Belgium. They were carrying supplies and clearing the sick and wounded around the Hooge Crater area (below)
That’s what Ernest and is work party were doing on 19 September but the men found themselves in an exposed position in an old trench. A shell burst close to them wounding several of the men including Ernest. He was taken first to the 1st Anzac Corps Central Bureau and the following day to the 3rd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssenthoek unconscious and with head wounds. He did not live much longer. On 21 September 1917, William Peach was killed at nearby Westhoek.
Back at home, in mid-October 1917, John Emmett heard Ernest was wounded. However, days later he learnt Ernest was dead. At the home of Ernest’s brother George on Penshurst Road, there was great sadness as no sooner had the news arrived of Ernest’s death, the news came of William Peach’s death. Both George and Mary had lost a sibling within days of one another. John Emmett died in 1921 aged seventy-seven. He was buried at the Hamilton (Old) Cemetery where his wife Matilda was buried with a memorial to Ernest.
*The Unit Diary of the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance for September, Appendix 1 lists Ernest as having been wounded on 19 September. Appendix 3 of the same diary, a list of those killed or wounded over the month gives the date of his wounding as 18 September. Ernest’s Casualty Form, part of his Service Record gives the date of his wounding as 27 September and his death on 29 September soon after arriving at the 3rd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssenthoek. The Roll of Honour lists Ernest’s date of death as 27 September 1917. I believe Appendix 1 of the Unit Diary is the most accurate date of his wounding, however, his date of death is a little more uncertain.