Ernest George Harper was born about 1896, the son of Thomas and Annie Harper
He was recorded in the census of 1901 living at Cadney, Bettisfield at the home of his Grandparents. Head of the household was George Dodd 67 and his wife was Jane Dodd 60. Also listed were Annie Harper 29 ‘wife of railway signalman’ and her children Ernest G 5, Elsie 2 and Ada 4 months.
In the next census of 1911, the Harper family were together in Bettisfield. Thomas Harper was 47 and a Railway Signalman. His wife of 18 years, Annie, was 39. She had given birth to 4 children all of whom were living. They were listed as Ernest George, then 15, a Farm Labourer, Elsie 12, Edith 10 and Doris 6.
(What happened to Ada? Presume that Edith and Ada were one and the same person??)
UK Soldiers Who Died in The Great War 1914 -19, accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms the regimental details at the top of this page. It adds that he enlisted in Ellesmere, Shropshire and this source says he was ‘killed in action’. His medal card, also on Ancestry lists his two medals.
Ernest George Harper’s Army Service Records have survived and are on ‘Ancestry’. They tell us that he signed up on 9th December 1915. H e was 20 years and 2 months old. He was 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall and had a chest measurement of 381/2 inches with an expansion range of 4 inches. His Trade was ‘Labourer’ and his address was Bettisfield. He named his Father, Thomas Harper, as his next of Kin. He was appointed to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 10th February 1916 when he was attached to the Army Reserve.
Ernest George Harper was mobilised on the 9th March 1916 and joined his battalion 3 days later. He embarked at Southampton on 10th July 1916 and disembarked at Rouen the next day and joined the base Depot. He was attached for duty ‘in the field’ on the 19th July 1916 and was killed in action a month later on 18th August 1916. The records say that he served 254 days in total.
There is an entry in Bettisfield School Log Book dated 29th August 1916. It says, “I very much regret to have to record the death of Geo Harper a former scholar of this school who was killed in action in France while doing his duty for King and Country. R.I.P.”
There is internal correspondence within the Army concerning the returning of any of his possessions to his next of kin – his father Thomas in Bettisfield. There is also correspondence with Thomas Harper concerning a commemorative plaque and scroll.
In August 1919 the army requested that the family should complete a ‘Living Relatives Form’. This listed Thomas and Annie – parents and sisters Elsie 20, Edith 18 and Doris 15. They were all in Bettisfield.
Although Ernest George Harper is buried in Flat iron Copse Mametz, he was not killed in the Battle for Mametz Woods which ended on 14th July 1916. He was killed more than a month after that, on the Somme.
There is an index card for Ernest George Harper in The Flintshire Roll of Honour in The County Record Office in Hawarden. The address given is The Cadney Bettisfield. The card confirms the military details at the top of this page and adds that he served for ‘about 6 months’. The card says he was killed in action near Albert in France on the 19th August 1916. The Vicar F Barry Roberts completed the card and signed it on 14th November 1919.