Private 12267. North Staffordshire Regiment (9th Battalion)
Ernest (also spelt in some records as Earnest) Upton was born in the period January – March 1888 (Birth Index) in Greendale, near Oakamoor, Staffordshire, the son of Thomas (a Wire Drawer) and Mary Upton, being the fourth of their six children. In 1891 when Ernest was aged 3 yrs the family remained living in Greendale, near Oakamoor. (1891 Census).
In 1901 the family were living in Battlesteads, Alton, by which time Earnest had a younger brother and sister. (1901 Census). In 1911 the family were living at 75 Queen Street, Cheadle. Earnest, then aged 23yrs, was not indicated as being in employment. (1911 Census).
Ernest Upton enlisted in the Army on a date as yet unknown. He was posted to the North Staffordshire Regiment, 9th Battalion, Service No. 12297. (Ancestory Records). He was posted to France on 28th July 1915. (Army Medal Card).
The North Staffordshire Regiment were designated a Pioneer Battalion involved in repairs and light engineering repair work. Following their deployment to France they saw action in a number of campaigns. On 9th April 1917 the Battalion was involved in engineering support work near to Arras in northern France when they came under enemy artillery fire. During this shelling two men from the unit were killed. (War Diary).
Earnest Upton was ‘Killed in action’ on 9th April 1917 and it is likely that he was one of these two men mentioned above. (Medal Card / Ministry of Defence records and Commonwealth War Graves Commission).
To date we have not traced any descendants of Earnest Upton but would very much like to hear from any one related to him or with more information than we have so far.
Footnote 1. We have been unable to locate the Army Records of Earnest Upton. His records may have been destroyed in German bombing in 1940 during WW2 when the War Ministry was hit and many thousands of military records were destroyed in the ensuing fire.
Footnote 2. The 9th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment was raised at Lichfield on the 20th September 1914 as part of as part of Kitchener’s Third New Army and joined 22nd Division as army troops. They trained on the South Downs, spending the winter in billets in Hastings from December. On 20th April 1915 they became a Pioneer Battalion and transferred to the newly forming 37th Division, at Cholderton on Salisbury Plain. They proceeded to France, landing at Le Havre on 29th July 1915.
Footnote 3. The Battle of Arras (also known as the Second Battle of Arras) was a British offensive from 9 April to 16 May 1917. British, Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Newfoundland, and Australian troops attacked German defences near the French city of Arras on the Western Front. There were major gains on the first day, followed by stalemate. The battle cost nearly 160,000 British casualties and about 125,000 German casualties. (Wikipedia). Arras is south west of Lille in Northern France.
Footnote 4. The following is an extract from the War Diary of the 9th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment:
Place: Warlus Arras. Date: Monday 9th April 1917. Zero Day. Zero hour 5:30 A.M.
Battalion left Warlus for Arras at 5:15 A.M. Saw and heard Bombardment of Zero hour from high road. Passed through Dainville and had long halt at Faubourg D’amiens. Hot meal was served at this point. Very heavy rain fell. Battalion, less part of HQ, moved forward through Arras at 10:30 for Iceland Trench. Part of HQ under 2nd. Lieut. Coleman returned to Transport Lines at Dainville. Battalion reached Iceland Trench at about 12:30pm. Lt. Nash went forward with a party to reconnoitre work on Cambrai Road. Reported at 2:00pm much to be done. Battalion, less 2 platoons in Co. (employed laying water mains), started work on road at 3:45 assisting and then relieving 20 RRRC filling in trenches or Tank Trap and other holes and clearing debris. Work was carried on until midnight 9th /10th and then Battalion returned to Manchester and London Caves. Battalion HQ remaining in Iceland Trench. Battalion was relieved at work by 179 Co. Royal Engineers. & New Zealand Engineers. Point reached when relieved was Estaminet Corner Tilloy. Enemy shelled the roads while work was proceeding. Two men were killed and seven wounded. 2nd. Lt. Coleman was wounded on CambraiI Road near Station while moving up with Transport from Dainville to field above Blangy between two roads leading to that village, guide having led Transport across Railway by mistake. Snow fell at night.