Ernest’s letter before Battle of the Somme took his life

Ernest Garnham
Ernest Garnham

The looming anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War has prompted a woman to dig out a letter her uncle sent to her mother just before he went into the Battle of the Somme where, like so many others, his life was cut short.

Written in pencil, the faded two-page letter reveals young Ernest George Garnham’s frustration at not knowing when he would be going into battle.

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No Caption ABCDE PNL-140728-153509009

He wrote to his sister Alice: “It is rather rotten waiting and not knowing when we are going.”

The rifleman was also hoping for several days leave in the hopes of having a ‘lark’.

But it was not to be and sadly when the 25 year old was called to the frontline under the London Rifle Brigade he was killed at the famous Battle of the Somme.

More than 1,000,000 men were wounded or killed, making it one of humanity’s bloodiest battles.

Heather Blundell, of Durrants Road, Berkhamsted, has had the precious letter since her mother passed away aged 83 in 1981.

She decided to dig it out as the 100th anniversary draws closer.

Heather said: “It is just history really .

“My father lost a brother as well in that war and I lost a cousin in the Second World War.

“It is just a part of my family history. Anything about history is interesting to me.”

Ernest was reported missing on October 8, 1916 and registered as dead the following day.

His name is listed on the Thiepval Memorial, which is dedicated to the 72,195 missing British and South African men who died in the Battles of the Somme between 1915 and 1918 with no known grave.