Regiment or Ship: Machine Gun Corps
Service Number(s): 123639
Occupation: Errand Boy in a China Shop
Date of Birth: 01.03.1896
Place of Birth: Polegate, Sussex
Date of Death: 31.01.1961
Place of Death: Worthing Hospital, Lyndhurst Road, WorthingAddress: 6 Leopold Road, Bexhill
Photos and newspaper articles
Parents: Jabez York, born 1854 in Warbleton, Sussex, died 1931 in Sussex, married Henrietta Heathfield, born 1858 in Waldron, Sussex.
Jabez Stephen York, born 1876, died 1951, in the district of Eastbourne, Sussex.
Charles Henry York, born 1877, in Brighton, Sussex.
Henrietta E York, born 1880, in Portslade, West Sussex.
Charlotte A York, born 1883, in Waldron, Sussex – died in 1969.
Agnes York, born 1885, in Burgess Hill, Sussex.
George Wesley York, born 1892, in Polegate, Sussex – died in 1966 W0279 YORK George Wesley
Florence Emily York, born 1899, in Bexhill, Sussex
Ernest Albert York married Dorothy Kathleen Jewhurst in the district of Battle (probably Bexhill) in 1922.
Eric R. York, born in 1925, in the district of Battle (probably Bexhill).
Alan G. York, born in 1933, in the district of Battle (probably Bexhill).
Ernest’s Probate, from the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966:
YORK Ernest Albert of 50 Cheviot Road Durrington Worthing died 31 January 1961 at Worthing Hospital Lyndhurst Road Worthing Administration (with Will) Lewes 21 April to Dorothy Kathleen York widow.
Effects £1871 19s. 10d.
A rough approximation of the value today, of that sum in 1961, is £38,000
First World War Experience
None of Ernest’s Service Records, other than his Medal Roll Index Card (MRIC) and the Service Medal and Award Roll, appear to have survived and both of those only tell us that he was in the ‘MGC’ (Machine Gun Corps).
We don’t know, for certain, where he served, because there is no Theatre of War mentioned on the MRIC, but the fact that it says he was entitled to two medals, meant that he had to have gone abroad. This is far from uncommon.
The newspaper report that follows tells of his being a POW and a search of the prisoner of war records kept by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) brought up the following records (the page headings, etc., were all in German as were the handwritten notes).
The ICRC has three records for Ernest Albert York and it is obvious from these that, for some reason, he was transferred twice, from one camp to another and each record is for a different camp.
The first was the camp outside the city of Cassel (or Kassel), in Northern Hesse, called Niederzwehren POW camp.
The entry in the ICRC book says, “York Ernest Albert, 123639, Soldat MGC 61, St. Quentin, 21-3-18, Unverwundent, Westfront, 1-3-96, Polegate, Bexhill on Sea, Mutter: Henrietta, 6, Leopold Road.”, with right at the top of the page, 22 Mai 1918” and “Cassel”
This tells us that Ernest Albert York, a soldier (i.e. not an officer) with the 61st Machine Gun Company, was captured, on 21st March 1918, at the battle of St Quentin, on the Western Front. He was unwounded, born on 1st March 1896, in Polegate, and that, at the time he was captured, his address was 6, Leopold Road, Bexhill on Sea. His next of kin it gives as ‘mutter’, in English, ‘mother’ – Henrietta. He first entered the Cassel POW camp on 22nd May 1918
The second was Mannheim where he was moved to on the 5th June 1918. The information is much the same though at the heading of column 5 appear the words “Vorhergehender Aufenthaltsort” which mean “Previous whereabouts” and, under Ernest’s name appears “Cassel”, which is what tells us of his move.
The third (and possibly final) move was to Herburg, on 14th June 1918, where, under “Previous whereabouts” appears the word “Mannheim”.
No record has been found of any other moves to other camps or when he was released.
The following comes from the Bexhill Observer, dated January 11th, 1919:-
A SIXTY-MILE MARCH
Private E. A. York, Machine Gun Corps, a son of Mr and Mrs J. York, of 6, Leopold-road, arrived home some days ago and has since been on a visit to the Isle of Wight. He had been a prisoner of war for eight months.
Private York had an interval of about five weeks between his release and his actual arrival home, and this helped him to recover somewhat from the hardships inseparable from scarcity of food. He had the trying experience of a sixty-mile march on very little.
More than once while in the hands of the enemy he had to part with personal possessions which he greatly valued in order to obtain bread. The German guards some-time looked longingly at what came in Red Cross parcels. Personal parcels did not reach him.
As shown on his Medal Roll Index Card, he was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal