Ernest Albert Grey, maternal grandfather of Peter & Brian Hurn who supplied information to the Oral History Project of Surrey History Centre, was born in Croydon on 6th July 1888 and was baptised on 2nd September that year. He joined the army in 1906 when he went with a mate up to Trafalgar Square and as the recruiting officer said his name sounded Scottish and he should join a Scottish regiment, he joined the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, enlisting on 25 October 1906 and served as a Private, service number 9214. The Battalion was overseas prior to WWI, in Gibraltar, and it returned to the UK in September 1914. They were to be deployed to France immediately but the men were unhappy as they were not going to be able to see their families first. This was then allowed and they then deployed, landing at Zeebrugge on 6th October 1914.
The Battalion was involved in the First Battle of Ypres and Ernest was wounded in that locality, being shot in the upper right arm, just weeks after landing in Belgium. He was invalided back to hospital in Hamilton, Scotland, before being transferred to hospital in Croydon, Surrey, which led to him being discharged from the army as unfit for further war service, on 27th June 1915. For his service he was awarded the Mons Star.
Ernest met his future wife Beatrice Maud Cate at Croydon Hospital, where she was the head cook.They were married on 25th June 1917 at St Michael’s & All Angel’s Church, Croydon, at which point Ernest listed his profession as a Postman. During the First World War one of his sisters, Winifred, worked in munitions at what was known as the “Ack and Tab” (Accumulatory and Tabulation Company) in Mitchum Rd, Croydon. After the war at home, Ernest would grow vegetables and keep chickens and in the 1920’s he canvassed for the first Labour Councillor in Croydon, accompanied by his daughter. He also had a job with Croydon Council as a Disinfector, driving a van to houses where people were suffering with infections such as diphtheria, scarlet fever & tuberculosis, his job being to collect their linen and clothes for disinfecting. Ernest loved football & cricket. He followed Crystal Palace football team & Surrey County Cricket Club, regularly visiting their grounds Selhurst Park & The Oval. He played cricket despite his injured arm and had previously played cricket when he was in the army, being the only private in a team of officers.
Ernest continued living in Croydon for the rest of his life and passed away there in 1973 at the age of 84.
The stories of other members of the Hurn family: George John Cate, Albert Henry Cate, Reginald Lewis Isaac & John (Jack) Isaac, may be found on this website.
Images courtesy of Peter Hurn.