Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Second Lieutenant Ernest Fletcher, B Company, 15th (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles), was killed in action on the Somme.
The regiment had been formed originally in 1798 as the Bank of England Volunteers, was disbanded at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and then raised again as part of the Volunteer Force in 1860. After it went through a small number of name changes, on the formation of the Territorial Force in 1908 it became part of the new London Regiment. This regiment was considered unusual, all its battalions were of the Territorial Force, and each battalion was regarded as a corps in its own right.
Second Lieutenant Fletcher had at first served with his regiment as a private. It appears likely that he received his commission towards the outbreak of the Great War. He was sent with his battalion to France in March of 1915, and saw action during the Battle of Festubert two months later. As part of the 47th Division, his battalion was involved in the Attacks on High Wood. The division suffered over 4,500 casualties in four days, including Second Lieutenant Fletcher, in what was considered a failed attack and a “wanton waste of men”. He is buried in the Delville Wood Cemetery at Longueval in France; on his gravestone are the words, “Asleep till morning”.
Ernest, from Derby, was 35 years old.