Ernest Summelee


About Ernest

  • Name
  • Initials
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
    17 September 1878
  • Birth town
  • Resided town
  • Commemorated
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
  • Date of death
  • Married
  • Occupation
    College Kitchen Porter

Service Information

  • Army

  • Service Number
  • Rank
  • Regiment
    Cambridgeshire Regiment


Corporal E Summelee  was serving with the 2/1 Cambridgeshire Regiment when he passed through Peterborough East Station on 10 April 1917.  He wrote in the visitors’ book “Make new friends but keep the old the one is silver and the other is gold.”  He was stationed at Cleveland, near Middlesbrough.

With assistance from it is thought this man was Corporal Ernest T Summelee from Cambridge.  He signed up on 12 July 1915 and joined the 3/1 Battalion Cambridgeshire Regiment.  Soon after he moved to the 2/1 Battalion with whom he served until they were disbanded in February 1918.  A short spell in the Cambridgeshire and Suffolk Reserve Battalion was followed by transfer to the 2nd Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment in April 1918, in France.

When with the 2/1 Cambridgeshire it is likely that he was based in Peterborough, Newmarket, Harrogate and Marton Hall, Middlesbrough in October 1916.  He could well have been on a trip home to Cambridge from Cleveland when he signed the visitors’ book in April 1917.  He went to France in April 1918, and fought with the South Staffordshire’s until the end of the war and was discharged in January 1919 as physically unfit for service, earning a Silver War Badge in addition to the British War and Allied Victory Medals.

His upbringing was not straightforward when looking at his family life.  His mother was Elizabeth Witt from Oakington, Cambridge who had married William Buck in 1865.  William appears to have died six years before Ernest was born in 1878. His mother was living with Joseph Summelee and the family were going under the Summelee surname in 1881.  No marriage record has been found.  By 1891 the family had reverted to using Buck as their surname, there is no trace of his father and Stephen Hall was living with the family as a boarder.

1901 has his mother Elizabeth using the surname of Hall, living with former boarder Stephen Hall and the children had changed their surname back to Summelee.

Ernest married Ethel Newman in Cambridge in 1904 and they had a daughter Winifred in 1906, a second child died in infancy.  They were living in Sturton Street in 1911 when Ernest was a college kitchen porter.  His military documents record an address in John Street, Cambridge.  He appears to have separated from his wife Ethel after the war; it is thought that she died in Northampton in 1960.  In 1939, Ernest was still in Cambridge but living with a housekeeper Alice Jackson and working as an upholsterer.  Two children are listed with Summelee as their surname and records indicate that Alice Jackson was their mother and Ernest was their father.  Some time after 1939, Alice Jackson became Alice Summelee but again, no marriage record has been traced.  His daughter Winifred died in 1944.

Ernest T Summelee-Buck (A recognition of his father and mother’s legal names at the time of his birth?)  died in 1960 at the age of 80, still in Cambridge.

Do you recognise this story?  Do get in touch if you can tell us more about Ernest.


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