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The Fallen of Kirkby

Ernest Cartwright

Ernest Cartwright (Photo: Barrow News)
Ernest Cartwright (Photo: Barrow News)
  • Son of Herbert and Minnie Cartwright, of Wooldale, Huddersfield, Yorkshire.
  • Husband of Dora Alice Cartwright (née Winder) of ‘Morden’ Soutergate, Kirkby-in-Furness.
  • 2nd Lieutenant, 5th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding) Regiment.
  • Killed-in-Action, 1st November 1918, near Famars, aged 26.
  • Buried in Maing Communal Cemetery Extension.

In 1911, at the age of 17, Ernest Cartwright was in lodgings in the house of Mr and Mrs Jones in Leeds, where he worked as a labourer for a rug manufacturer. His father, an engine tenter1 in a woollen mill, his mother and seven brothers and sisters (four other children having died) all lived at home in Wooldale. His 12 year old sister, Beatrice, worked part time as a rug maker.

Ernest Cartwright’s wife-to-be at that time, Dora Winder, daughter of Thomas Winder, the retired Soutergate blacksmith, was then working as a cooking and laundry teacher and living in lodgings in Manningham, Bradford. At 31 she was still single, but in April 1917 she married Ernest, already in the army for over two years since enlisting early in the war as a Territorial soldier, though in the register he gave his occupation as ‘Commercial Traveller’.


 

1 An engine tenter’s job in a woollen mill was to operate the machine that stretched the cloth as it dried. The occupation is recalled in such place names as Tenter Bank, and in expressions like “on tenter hooks”.

The blacksmith’s shop in Soutergate. Picture: History of Kirkby Group collection.
The blacksmith’s shop in Soutergate. Picture: History of Kirkby Group collection.

In truth Mr and Mrs Cartwright were unable to spend much time together in their marriage: Ernest only had one period of leave between their wedding and his death. It is said that Dora bought his commission for him, although as the practice of climbing the ranks by payment was abolished in 1871, this is doubtful.

The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment

Ernest Cartwright arrived in France on July 15th 1915. Andy Moss thinks he was originally in the 1st/6th Battalion, and that Cartwright was transferred to the 1st 5th at the time of his commission. (Both Battalions were part of the Territorial Force.) The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment is still the only regiment in the British Army to be named after an individual who was not a member of the royal family. Arthur Wellesley, after defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, was recognised as our greatest military commander. Following his death at the age of 83, Queen Victoria gave authority for the 33rd Regiment to be renamed ‘The Duke of Wellington’s’, and later the ‘(West Riding)’ was added to the name.

Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington

The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment was in France and Flanders for the whole of the First World War, and its 63 awarded Battle Honours read like a history of the First World War itself. It is believed Ernest had only one period of leave in all that time. Having arrived in France on 15th July 1915 he almost made it to the end, dying in action just a few days before the armistice. We can only imagine Dora Cartwright’s pain, since most people were celebrating the end of ‘The Great War’ as she had to receive the news that her husband would not be coming back.

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