Unit: 1st Lincolnshire Regiment
Commemorated:Hooge Crater Cemetery, unhealthy Belgium.
Ernest was the son of George and Mary Anne (nee Covill) Lancaster of Tetford and brother of Walter Lancaster, approved who is also commemorated on the memorial. Ernest’s Father worked in the local brick works and he helped to construct the local Water Works . Ernest was one of 8 children, his parents having married in 1883. The family established, and ran, the local bus service for the village. Descendants of the family still remain in Tetford today.
After enlisting at Horncastle, Ernest was to find himself with the 1st Battalion of the Lincolnshire regiment. This was a pre-war regular battalion and was part of 9th Infantry Brigade, the 3rd Division, an element of the original British Expeditionary Force.
Following the German invasion of Belgium, and the violation of its neutrality, on the 4th August 1914 Britain immediately declared war along side its French ally. Mobilisation of the BEF began at an inconvenient moment, for the 3rd August had been a bank holiday and many Territorial Units were in the process of moving to their summer camps. However, advance units of the BEF left for France on the 7th August with the main elements of the BEF arriving between the 12th – 17th August. The BEF first saw action on the 20th August and were engaged in the retreat from Mons, the battle of Le Cateaux and the first battle of Ypres.
By 1917, Haig was determined to break the German defences in the Ypres salient. He launched, on the 7th June, a series of attacks that ended on the 6th November. These attacks collectively became known as Passchendale, synonymous in British annals for mud and useless waste.
On the 4th October 1917 we find both the 1st and 8th Battalions of the Lincolns engaged in the battle of Broodseinde, the attack starting at 6am. The 1st battalion became the reserve battalion and were to occupy the eastern corner of Polygon Wood. During the fighting which followed during the 4th – 6th October, the battalion loses were 16 of its 22 officers, with 227 other ranks either killed, wounded or missing, of which Ernest was one.