Ernest Ashwell was born on 10th November 1887 and was employed as a constructional engineer in Walsall when he enlisted into the ranks of the Royal Engineers on 17th February 1915. Within two months, he was discharged to a commission in the 11th Bn. East Lancashire Regt. (Accrington Pals), which at the time was undergoing training in Caernarvon.
During the attack on Serre of 1st July 1916, Lt. Ashwell was pinned down in No Man's Land for some 16 hours, suffering for most of that time from acute shell shock and a gunshot wound to the abdomen. In a letter to the War Office dated 2nd May 1917 he wrote:
Ashwell was admitted to 3rd London General Hospital on 5th July 1916 and, although he was discharged within a month, the damage to his abdominal muscles was such that it was December before he was again able to stand upright.
He returned to his Regiment, but was judged to be "permanently unfit for marching, physical training and bayonet fighting". Ashwell transferred back to the Royal Engineers with whom he served at Longmoor Camp in Hampshire, gaining promotion to the rank of Captain in July 1917.
© Andrew C Jackson 2000
Compiled from TNA document WO339/27489.