RFA West Lancs Bdes
680071 SGT. E. GARLAND. R.F.A.
Ernest Garland was born in Preston in the last quarter of 1893 and baptised at Preston St James on 5 November. His father was Frederick Garland (b. 1854 in Fulbeck, near Grantham in Lincolnshire), a fellmonger by trade (a fellmonger deals in animal skins or hides, especially sheepskins). His mother was Ellen Jane Pindard (b. 1860 in Spalding, Lincolnshire). Fred and Ellen were married in Lincolnshire in 1876 and they had 14 children, though they lost four in infancy. The 10 survivors were: Clara (b. 1877), Flora (b. 1879), William (b. 1881), Ellen Jane (b. 1883), Ethel (b. 1886), Mary (May) (b. 1888), Rosalind (b. 1890), then Ernest, then Marian (b. 1896) and finally Sydney (b. 1903). The family lived in Lincolnshire until about 1885, then they moved to Salford but by 1890 they had settled in Preston. In 1911, Fred and Ellen, plus Ernest, Marian and Sydney, were living at 54 Pleasant Street, Preston. They also had a son-in-law and his three children, plus another boarder, all living in the same house. Ernest was working as a fitter in an iron foundry. (Pleasant Street no longer exists but it was off Avenham Lane in Preston).
Ernest was in the Territorials before the War and when he signed up in the Royal Field Artillery in 1914 he was assigned service number 812, which was later changed to 680071. He was posted to “A” Battery of 276 Brigade. 276Bde was part of the artillery attached to 55th (West Lancashire) Division. Ernest landed with his Division in France on 30 September 1915. At some point he was promoted to Serjeant.
55th (West Lancashire) Division fought at Guillemont and Ginchy (on the Somme) in September 1916, suffering severe losses especially at Guillemont. They also fought at Flers-Courcelette and Morval later that month, and then in October 1916 they were moved to the Ypres Salient, at the time a relatively quieter part of the front. Although there were no major engagements in early 1917, there was constant harassment, shelling and raids.
1917: Third Battle of Ypres
From 55th Divisional History: "The objective of what was called the Third Battle of Ypres was the capture of the enemy's Gheluvelt-Langemark system... The weather during the whole of June and during the greater part of July had been ideal for campaigning purposes. Unfortunately, on Sunday 29 July a particularly heavy thunderstorm filled up the shell holes and turned roads and tracks into a morass. The succeeding days were dull and hazy, making the completion of the artillery preparation peculiarly difficult and typical Flanders weather conditions prevailed on the morning of the 31st - the moment chosen for the attack. Low lying clouds which made aerial observation and cooperation as difficult as could be imagined; a dampness of atmosphere, threatening rain at any moment; a half sodden ground, greasy and depressing; such was the luck of the weather at 3.50am on 31 July 1917, when the barrage opened. Not since the war began had so intense a barrage been put down, and of its wonderful effectiveness all ranks in the line bore eloquent testimony."
Ernest Garland was killed on the opening day of the battle. He was 23 years old.
Service No: 680071
Date of Death: 31/07/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “A” Bty, 276th Bde.
Grave Reference: V. B. 32.
Cemetery: VLAMERTINGHE NEW MILITARY CEMETERY