Ernest was born in Witley in 1881, the fifth of John and Rosina Smith’s ten children. In 1899, Ernest joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, signing up for 12 years after which he became a labourer/nurseryman, living in Chobham. With the outbreak of war, Ernest joined the 1st Battalion Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment (sometime between August and November 1914 as he qualified for The Mons Star). It is surmised Ernest was transferred to the East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) at a later date.
The 2nd Battalion East Kent Regiment took part in the Battle of Loos (25th September – 28th September 1915). After an artillery bombardment, the men advanced to find the German wire had not been cut. Although Loos was captured 8,500 men were killed and many more wounded by German machine guns on the first day. The Germans reinforced their positions overnight and the next day a further 8,000 men were lost. On the 28th, the British retreated to their original positions, having lost 20,000 men in the battle. It is surmised Ernest was killed during the battle and his body was not retrieved or not identified. Ernest is commemorated on the Loos Memorial and was awarded the 1914 Star (The Mons Star), British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Ernest’s younger brothers also served in the war: John in the 4th Hussars and Alfred in the Royal Navy.