Ernest WEST (1886–1917)

West in OJI

Ernest West was born in Wootton in 1886, the son of Arthur West and Mary Ann Phipps. His parents were married at St Peter’s Church on 3 November 1883 and had five children:

  • Florence Eva West (born in Wootton in 1884, registered fourth quarter)
  • Ernest West (born in Wootton in 1886, registered first quarter of 1887)
  • Elizabeth Louie West (born in Wootton in 1889, registered third quarter)
  • Ann West (born in Wootton in 1893, registered second quarter);
    died shortly afterwards, buried at St Peter’s Church on 7 June 1893)
  • Dorothy West (born in Wootton in 1898, registered second quarter).

The West family appear to have been nonconformists, and none of their children was baptised at St Peter’s Church.

The 1891 census shows the family living in Wootton village. Ernest was then four years old, and his father was working as an agricultural labourer. By 1901 his father was a groom gardener, with his address specified as the Heath Cottage on Boars Hill; but Ernest (14) had moved out and was working as a journeyman baker. He was living with the Wootton blacksmith Thomas Minns (67) and his wife. (Minns was actually his grandfather, and his mother, although the illegitimate daughter of Eliza Phipps, had the name Minns on her birth certificate.)

By the time of the 1911 census only Ernest’s youngest sister Dorothy was at home with her parents on Boars Hill, and his father was working as a domestic gardener. Ernest (24) was now a pastry cook and lodging with a family called Wade at 24 Derby Road, Hinckley, Leicestershire.

In the second quarter of 1914 Ernest West married Gertrude Lily Foxon (born in 1884/5, registered Hinckley district in first quarter of 1885) in that district, and they began their short married life there. They had one daughter:

  • Daisy J. West (born in 1915, registered third quarter in Hinckley registration district).

Poppy In the First World War Ernest West first served with the Royal Garrison Artillery (Service No. 89065) and then as a Gunner with the 504th Battery, 14th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery (Service No. 201959). He died at Poperinge in Belgium at the age of 31 on 24 June 1917. He is buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Grave XIV. D. 20A), and his parents paid for the words NEVER FORGOTTEN to be added to his headstone.

He is remembered on the war memorial outside St Peter’s Church at Wootton, and also on two memorials in Hinckley, Leicestershire: on their War Memorial and the memorial in the Primitive Methodist Chapel that was moved from the Wesleyan Chapel when it was demolished. A report in the Hinckley Times of July 1918 reads:

Private Ernest West of the Royal Field Artillery has died of wounds in France on June 24th. Private West joined up with he Royal Garrison Artillery and later transferred to the Royal Field Artillery. H was wounded by a shrapnel bullet to his chest the previous day and did in a military hospital. He had been in France 8 weeks. A member of Hinckley Wesleyan Church and a Sunday School teacher, he was also a former member of Hinckley Volunteer Training Corps, in which he was a crackshot. He had previously won the A. E. Hawley Silver Challenge Cup for shooting.



Ernest West’s widow
  • Gertrude Lily West was living at 12 New Buildings, Hinckley, Leicestershire just after the war.
His parents
  • Arthur West was born in Cumnor in 1864 (registered Abingdon district second quarter). He died on 26 July 1959 at the age of 95 and was buried with his wife. He was then living at 152 Cumnor Road, Boars Hill.
  • Mary Ann Phipps (Mrs Arthur West) was born in Wootton in 1860, registered fourth quarter, the illegitimate daughter of Eliza Phipps, baptised at St Peter’s Church on 7 October 1860 (recognized, however, by her father, the blacksmith Harry Minns). She died on 30 October 1932 (at the age of 71 according to her tombstone, but she was actually 72, as the parish register records). She was buried at St Peter’s Church and is described in the burial register as “an intruder under the Burial Act”, presumably because she was a nonconformist.


See also

  • CWGC: West, E.
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 1 August 1917, p. 6: Photograph of “Gunner E. West, R.F.A., Boars Hill” in the “Heroes of the War” section (shown above with kind permission of Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire History Centre)
  • Wikipedia: Royal Field Artillery