PoppyHRFHS Area Servicemen Who lost Their Lives in WWI, April 1917

Click on the link: WWI Killed in Action April 1917

Ernest Selmes, Royal Army Service Corps, died 24th April 1917

… represents the 56 young men from the Hastings and Rother FHS area who lost their lives in just this one month 100 years ago in April 1917.

The Selmes family lived and worked in John’s Cross, Mountfield for centuries. William – son of William – married Emily in 1884 as he came out of labouring in the fields to take up domestic gardening. They tragically lost their first child, George William, at the age of six in 1891. However they were blessed with six other children – four boys then two girls – between 1887 and 1898.

Ernest Selmes was the third of these six, born 1891. Of the four boys, only Ernest and his older brother, Alfred, enlisted to fight in the War. Alfred had by then emigrated to Canada and joined the Canadian forces in 1916. Ernest joined the Army Service Corps in Hastings at the outset. As a member of the Service Corps, Ernest would have kept on the move supplying the troops with whatever was needed. As such his units were an obvious target for enemy fire as they moved to and from the Front Line.

But Ernest was not killed or wounded in action, he was one of the many caught out by the diseases which were part of the horrendous conditions the troops had to endure. In 1917 he was transported back to England where he died a lingering death at the Birmingham Fever Hospital on 24th April. He was buried in Lodge Hill Cemetery and Crematorium, Birmingham, which, although is on native soil it is actually further from Mountfield than the graves of many of his comrades who fell in France and Belgium.

Ernest’s parents, William and Emily, lived into their eighties. William died in 1936 so was spared fears of WWII. Emily, however, witnessed the beginning of another conflict with all that must have meant to her and sadly died in 1943 before knowing the outcome.

Of the siblings, Alfred, as already mentioned, found a new life in Canada. He survived the War and picked up his life with Ellen, the woman he married in Tonbridge in 1910. They had a son, Roy, in Ontario who hopefully continued the line across the Atlantic. Younger brother, James, was married and had three children by 1914 and the family remained in the area. The youngest boy, Arthur, moved to Edenbridge, Kent. He never married but seems to have fared well financially if not from a familial point of view; he left nearly £50,000 in his will of 1984. Of the two girls, only the youngest, Eleanor, had a child, born in Surrey, 1926 with father Arthur Wooller.

The constancy of the Selmes family in Mountfield was shattered, certainly not wholly as a result of the Great War but not helped by the chaos and distress it caused.


 The full list for the duration of WWI can be found in the Members’ Area. If you are a member simply log in and scroll the Resources section. If you are not a member why not consider joining? Go to: http://www.hrfhs.org.uk/details-rates/

Return here to find those in following months as the commemoration anniversary arrives