Ernest William Dawson was born and raised in Chelmsford and worked as a baker’s assistant and then at the National Steam Car Company in Chelmsford. He lost both parents by 1915 by which time he was in the army. He was killed in December 1917 at the Battle of Cambrai. His home was in Wells Row off George Street.
Ernest was born in Chelmsford in 1893, the son of Henry Dawson and Mary Ann Dawson. Ernest’s father had been born in Chelmsford in 1846. His mother had been born in 1855 at Abingdon, Berkshire. The couple had married in 1877.
Ernest’s elder siblings are believed to have been; Elizabeth Mary A. Dawson (born in 1877), Henry Edward Dawson (born on 27th June 1879 and christened at Church of Our Lady Immaculate, Chelmsford on 3rd July 1879), Harriet Emma Dawson (born in 1881), Gertrude Caroline Dawson (born in 1883), Frederick Charles Dawson (born in 1886), Clara Maud Dawson (born c1888) and Daisy Louise Dawson (born in 1890). His only known younger one was Lily Mary Dawson (born in 1897). All the children had been born in Chelmsford and the family had lived at Wells Row, George Street, Moulsham since before 1881. In that census and that of 1891 Ernest’s father had been described as a bricklayer’s labourer, but he was to died in 1898, aged 50.
The 1901 census found Ernest’s widowed mother living at Wells Row with six of her children. Ernest was one of them, aged eight and a scholar. A decade later the 1911 census recorded 17 year-old Ernest living with his mother and two siblings at 2 Wells Row. Ernest was a baker’s assistant. His mother was a school caretaker at the Catholic School in Chelmsford; brother Henry a house painter; and sister Gertrude a domestic servant,
After enlistment Ernest served as Private 41690 in the 5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment.
Ernest’s mother died on 30th April 1915, aged 57, after collapsing in Rectory Lane, Chelmsford. A report in the following week’s Essex Weekly News mentioned Ernest:
“The deceased was the mother of Pte. Dawson, one of the men taking part in the recruiting march of the 5th Essex, who arrived in Chelmsford that afternoon.”
He died on 1st December 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai, having transferred to become Rifleman 10/41214 in the 10th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles.
A family announcement in the Essex Weekly News on 11th January 1918 revealed news of his death:
“Dawson. - Killed in action in France on Dec. 11, Rifleman E. W. Dawson, the second and dearly-loved son of the late Mrs. Dawson, of 2 Wells-row, George-st., Chelmsford, aged 23. Forget him? No, we never will; We loved him here, we love him still.”
DAWSON, ERNEST WILLIAM,
Rifleman, 10th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (formerly of the 5th Battalion, Essex Regiment)
The same edition also carried a short report:
“Rifleman E. W. Dawson, killed in action on Dec. 11, was a brother of Miss M. Dawson, George-st., Chelmsford. Deceased formerly worked at the National Steam Car Company’s works. He was 23 years of age and had served in the Army three years. An elder brother serving in the H.L.I. has also seen active service in France.”
On 18th January 1918 the Essex County Chronicle reported:
“Rfmn. E.W. Dawson, killed in action on Dec. 11, was a brother of Miss M. Dawson, George Street, Chelmsford, and formerly worked at the National Steam Car Co.’s works. He was 23 and had served three years.”
Ernest is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial. Louveral, Nord, France, on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, and on the War Memorial at Church of Our Lady Immaculate in New London Road, Chelmsford (pictured). He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The 1918 register of electors listed his sister Clara Dawson at 2 Wells Row.
After the war his sister Mrs. Clara Maude Lodge (who had married Sydney J. Lodge in 1921) was resident at 2 Wells Row and then 11 Warwick Square, Chelmsford.