2nd Lieutenant Ernest Robert Hatton

Date of Birth 18 December 1879
Age at Death 39
Date of Death 8 May 1918
Service Number
Military Service 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment
Merton Address Rondos', Dorset Road, Merton Park
Local Memorial Mitcham War Memorial

Additional Information

Born in the St. Martin in the Fields district of London on 18 December 1879, Ernest was the son of William Hatton and his wife Hannah. The couple had seven other children – William Jnr, Herbert, Katherine, Percy, Alfred, Theresa and Leonard. In 1891 the family was living in the Malvern Hotel, Kensington, where William Snr was a licensed Victualler.

Ernest and his siblings attended the Oxford Gardens School in Kensington. In 1897 at the age of 18, he joined the army at Ballincollig, Ireland and became a private with the 17th Lancers. This was a cavalry brigade, noted for its participation in the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. Ernest’s military papers describe him as a Clerk, 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 126 lbs, with a 34 inch chest, blue eyes and brown hair. Ernest enlisted for a period of seven years, followed by 15 years as a reserve.

Ernest rose through the ranks fairly quickly, with a promotion to Lance Corporal in 1899, Corporal in 1900, Sergeant in 1901 and Squadron Quarter Master Sergeant in 1904. He served with the Lancers for 18 years and fought in the Second Boer War in South Africa (February 1900 to October 1902). During this period the 17th fought at the Battle of Elands River in September 1901, where they suffered heavy losses before surrendering to the Boers. The regiment returned to Britain in 1902 and spent nearly three years on home service. Ernest married Edinburgh-born Jemima Riddle on 3 July 1905. She accompanied him when the 17th Lancers were posted to India between 1905 and March 1913. The couple had two children during this period – Doris born in Meerut in 1906 and Ronald, born in Lahore in 1911.

Ernest joined King Edward’s Horse Regiment in 1913, achieving the rank of temporary Regimental Sergeant Major. The regiment was mobilised for war in London during August 1914 and remained there until April 1915. The men were then sent to the Western Front and dispersed amongst separate divisions.

In April 1918, Ernest was awarded a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, Wiltshire Regiment and posted to Flanders. The following month the 2nd battalion was involved in fighting near Vierstraat. The regimental War Diary entry written on 9 May describes events at the time as follows:

(Front Line near Vierstraat, Belgium)
“Quiet day. The party attached to 2nd BEDFORDSHIRE Regt rejoined in the evening. This party consisted of 2/Lieuts, RS GALLIERS and AC DAVIE and 71 Other Ranks. It was ascertained that this party had been in action on the 8th inst & sustained the following casualties:- 2/Lieut EW PLUMMER and ER HATTON wounded. 7 O Ranks killed, 18 wounded and 37 missing.”

Ernest died of his wounds on 8 May 1918 and his courage was recognised with a mention in dispatches from General Humer. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium and his name also appears on the Mitcham War Memorial.

Following Ernest’s death, his widow Jemima lived at ‘Rondos’, Dorset Road, Merton Park. Their son Ronald died in 2001 at the age of 89 in Stroud, Gloucestershire.


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