Ernest Sowden


About Ernest

  • Name
  • Initials
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
    21 May 1890
  • Birth town
    Hunslet, Leeds
  • Resided town
  • Commemorated
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
  • Date of death
    March 1935
  • Married
  • Occupation

Service Information

  • Army

  • Service Number
  • Rank
  • Regiment
    Royal Field Artillery


Ernest Sowden was born on 21 May 1890, in Hunslet, Yorkshire to parents Albert and Emily (nee Chadwick).  In 1901, Ernest was living at 23 Malcolm Street, Wortley with his mother, who was a housekeeper to William Richardson.  On 6 September 1910, Ernest married Elsie Stephenson at Bramley Register Office and in 1911 they were living at 1 Hawsworth Street, New Wortley, Leeds with William and Emily Richardson.  It is possible that Ernest’s father had died and his mother re-married.

Ernest attested in Leeds on 22 February 1915, aged 24 years and 9 months, joining the Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery.  He gave his address as 1 Holgate Row, Wellington Road, New Wortley, Leeds and his occupation was a carter.  On 8 February 1916, he transferred to the West Riding Divisional Ammunition Column as a Driver and two months later was appointed acting shoesmith.  He served in France with the British Expeditionary Force from 10 January to 1 November 1917.

According to Ernest’s service record he was frequently absent without leave from camp, overstaying his leave, being returned to camp under escort and breaking out of billets after roll call.  The punishments he received were admonishment, field punishment or detention and which also included forfeiture of pay.  On at least two occasions in 1918, he overstayed leave from camp by 14 days, eventually being apprehended by police in Leeds.

In February 1919, he was absent without leave and declared a deserter by a Court of Inquiry held on 6 March 1919.  In July 1919 Ernest was apprehended by the Police in Wellington Street, Leeds and taken to New Wortley Police Station where he was charged with being an absentee from 4th Reserve Battalion Royal Field Artillery, High Wycombe, which he admitted.  Ernest signed a Confession to Desertion on 12 February 1919 “I, Ernest Sowden, do hereby confess that I am No 795400 Driver Ernest Sowden of the RH & RFA, and that I deserted from that Corps on the 12th day of February 1919.”  As Ernest had signed a full confession, a Trial for Desertion was not held, but all his former service was forfeited and his service was only reckoned from 30 August 1919.  On 1 September 1919 he was sent to the Dispersal Centre, Ripon and was discharged on 1 October 1920.  He was awarded the British War and Allied Victory Medals.

Ernest also had several spells in hospital, mainly due to myalgia, muscle pain.

After the war, Ernest joined up again attesting at Ilkley on 14 April 1921 to join the 276 West Riding (Home) Defence Force for 90 days Emergency Service.  He gave his address as 1 Gas House Court, New Wortley, Leeds and his occupation as a labourer.  He was discharged on 4 July 1921.  His character was given as fair.

Two years later on 25 April 1923, Ernest attested in Leeds to join the Territorial Army for four years and joined the Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery (Territorial Army) 69th West Riding Brigade as a Driver, but was immediately appointed as a farrier.  He gives his address as 3 Holgate Row.  He attended all the annual training camps and was discharged on 24 April 1927 with the rank of Farrier.  He gave his address as 31 Colmore Road, Oldfield Lane, New Wortley, Leeds. Whilst in the army he passed a course in Cold Shoeing at Romsey and left with an Army Certificate of Trade Proficiency as a Farrier dated July 1923.

During these further two spells of army service, Ernest’s conduct sheet had no regimental entries.

Ernest and Elsie had five children: William (1912), Emily (1913), Ivy (1915), Annie (1916) and Ernest (1919).  Ernest died in Leeds in 1935, aged 44 years.

Can you tell us more about Ernest?  Does his story sound familiar?  Please get in touch if you can help.




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