Ernest Charley Loveland was born in Reading in 1895 to William and Lizzie. William was born in Guildford and was a brass and iron foundry worker although earlier, in 1871 he was in Reading and a labourer. Lizzie nee Smith was born in 1863 and also was from Guildford. Ernest had three elder siblings – Winifred born 1885, Henry born 1888 and George born 1893. Ernest was born in 1895 in Reading.
By the 1911 census the family are living at 4 Egbert Road. There is another brother to Ernest – William born 1900 in Winchester. William is still working in brass and iron foundry manufacturing which underlines the local nature of much industry at this time. There was an iron foundry on Middle Brook Street, perhaps he worked there. He is a foreman and a brag moulder. Winifred has left home, George is 19 years old and an apprentice linotype operator while Ernest at 15 years of age has left school to be an apprentice mechanical dentist. William at just 12 years of age is at school – perhaps the brand new Danemark School, now St Bede.
Ernest was another young lad keen to experience the wider world leading him to enlist in 1913 in Winchester. He was 18 years old. His service number was 1907. He joined the Hampshire Regiment attached to 1/7th Battalion and was later attached to the 1/4th Battalion alongside Walter Gilmour, seven years his senior but who also had attended St. Thomas’ Higher School. They would probably both have known RSM Leach also with the Battalion, who had taught at the school and who later played such an important role as a father figure to the troops in captivity.
On 9th October 1914 he was one of 300 men and 31 officers who embarked for India under the command of Colonel F. Bowker. A month later they were in Poona where they stayed until March 3rd 1915.when they embarked for the Front at Karachi. The Front they were posted to was Mesopotamia where they disembarked on March 3rd at Basra. He entered a Theatre of War in Mesopotamia on 18th March 1915. He was one of those who towed convoys of barges through a metre of mud and water to Sheiba. Once relieved of that duty things did not go much better and he found himself in what the History of the Hampshire Territorial Forces called ‘ filthy Turkish barracks’ at Asher. To get there experienced ‘arduous work of getting through Hammar Lake, the boats having to be pulled by manpower a good deal of the way’. Although the lake was shallow, the heat was terrible. It was now July- up to 50ºC and infested with flies and mosquitoes. Few at home were fully aware of the terrible conditions. However, The British Red Cross Society were present to see the conditions and write in the Regimental Journal:
‘Dear Reader, imagine yourself lying in a stifling tent, covered with flies day and night; think of the long, hot hours, the weariness, the pain; think of the patience, courage and heroism of our sailors and soldiers who endure it all’.
Ernest arrived at Kut El Amar on 29th November. CHECK and so was at the siege of Kut – a place of desperate starvation. For 147 days the garrisoned town was cut off from all help. Facing complete privation, with only 4 ounces of flour a day and a small slice of mule or horse, the commanding officer, General Townsend surrendered. His appeal to the Turkish leader, Pasha ??? failed to elicit a sympathetic response and weak with hunger, suffering terrible intestinal trouble and beaten by their captors they began the long, and in many cases fatal, march to Baghdad. He was not on the list of prisoners of war taken after the surrender at Kut, however Mrs Bowker collating information from the front given by the redoubtable RSM Leach lists him as a Kut prisoner. Since he may well have been a previous pupil, he would be sure to get this information right. Conditions on the arduous march to Turkey and afterwards in the prison camps were diabolical and he was one of about 60 men who died under these conditions. His date of death is given as 16th May 1916 He has no marked grave but is name is on the memorial at Basra as well as at St Bartholomew’s Church Hyde. One record shows him to have died at sea although this is not at all likely.
Of his 3 brothers who served in the war Henry was Killed In Action 2nd April 1917, George served in Mesopotamia as a Private then Sergeant in The Hampshire Regiment and William also rose to Sergeant in the Flying Corps and Royal Air Force. These two survived the War but two out of four boys of this family died within a year of each other – a huge loss for the Loveland family.
Ernest is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, and the memorial at St Bartholomew’s. He was entitled to 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.