This handsome looking young man is my 2x great-uncle Ernest Arthur TROWER. He was the son of Ebenezer and Annie TROWER, who was born in Sayers Common, Sussex in 1895. He was baptised in the parish church at Sayers Common on the 13th October 1895. His life was tragically cut short when he was killed in action in France on the 23rd September 1917, aged 22 years old.
With such a shortage of official information on the military service of Ernest I had to seek the smallest of clues wherever I could find them, including any surviving family documents. Fortunately there were two items which provided further information, which may seem quite trivial, but anything might help in the search to learn more.
The first is the picture at the top left of this post. The front of the photo gives us some collaborating evidence about his regiment, the badge of his left shoulder (you won’t be able to make it out even if you click on the photo to enlarge it, you’ll just have to take my word for it) reads CYCLIST. In this case however the back of the photo is more helpful. Although the photo was actually printed with a postcard back, it was obviously never used as such.
I suspect the handwriting is that of Ernest’s brother Percy, and the information contained matches with what is already known from other records, with the exception of one piece which doesn’t appear to be recorded elsewhere. The item in question is the fact that Ernest was in ‘C’ Company. This may seem trivial, but from reading the battalion war diary it is clear that the different companies were engaged in different activities on the 23rd September 1917 when Ernest was killed.
Another possible avenue of research comes from the details on the left hand edge of the card. It may be worth trying to find out if any records survive from the photographer, W. Dennis Moss of Cirencester, possibly (but very unlikely) some of his records may have survived and by checking the number 2492 I might be able to find out when Ernest was in Cirencester getting his photo taken.
The second piece of evidence is another postcard, this was sent by Ernest to his sister Mabel. Given that the subject of the card is a view of the village of Chiseldon, and although the postmark is not complete it was probably sent from Chiseldon Camp in Wiltshire. Fortunately the date on the postmark is clearer, 22nd October 1916. Given that the Army Cyclist Corps trained at Chiseldon Camp, it seems quite likely that Ernest was still in training on the 22nd October 1916.
The message itself reads: Dearest Mabel. Thanks for letter, sorry you could not get home I had a grand time, excuse p. card but have got behind with letter writing, so will write when I get time, they are very well at home. Edie got off all the time I was home with love. From Ernest. Edie was another sister, and home was presumably the family home at Sayers Common, Sussex.
So I have a couple of other clues, not much to go on, but at least I know that Ernest was still in England on the 22nd October 1916, and this may help identify when he actually joined the Durham Light Infantry over in France or Belgium.