Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Ernest Norton

Ernest Norton :

Ernest Norton : (L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

Ernest was born between July and September 1889 in Manchester. His father was called Louis and his mother was Martha Ellen. He had at least 2 older siblings: Leonard Louis and Emily Annie, and at least 2 younger: Louis Shurben and Jessie.

In 1891 the family lived at 15 Church Street in Hulme, Manchester. Louis worked as a railway porter. Martha's widowed mother Martha Shurben lived with the family.

Louis died in 1899, aged 50. In 1901 Martha and her children lived at 19 Turner Street in Stretford, Manchester. Martha worked as a mantle maker and Emily was a cotton print minder. Mantles are a component of gas lamps.

We don't know what work Ernest did once he left school, or where he lived. We do know that he was a member of the 6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment by 1909. This was a Territorial Force unit based in Hulme. Territorials kept their civilian homes and jobs, and trained as soldiers during evenings and weekends. They would also have an annual training camp lasting around 2 weeks.

The 6th Battalion had been formed on the 1st April 1908. Before then it had been the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. The new Territorial units were much more closely linked to the Regular Army than the old Volunteer Force, and it was hoped they would be more useful. Ernest's 6th Battalion service number was 778. This suggests he could have been a Volunteer who continued to serve after April 1908, although we don't know for certain.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and along with the rest of the Territorial Force Ernest was called into service. By this time he held the rank of Sergeant and was a member of A Company.

Ernest was sent to Egypt with the 6th Battalion in early September and arrived there on the 25th. After garrisoning the country and carrying out more training the battalion went to war in Gallipoli on the 5th May 1915.

The battalion took part in an attack on the village of Krithia between the 4th and 6th June. This had been intended to be captured during late April when the first Allied troops landed, but the Turks had been able to hold them off. Ernest and the 6th Battalion advanced further than most British units, but this meant when the Turks counter attacked they were cut off and forced to withdraw without capturing the village. They then had to endure Turkish attacks over the next 3 days.

By the end of the fighting around 150 members of the battalion were dead and hundreds more had been wounded. One of the men killed was Ernest. He died on the 4th June, aged 25.

After the war his grave could not be found, so he is one of the 20885 men commemorated on the Helles Memorial in Turkey. Ernest's name can be found between Panel 158 and 170. At some point after her son's death Martha lived at 23 Agnes Street in Levenshulme, Manchester.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council