Harry Ernest 'Ernie' Willsher was born and grew up in Springfield. He married there in 1910 and went on to have a daughter. Prior to joining the army in June 1916 he worked as a maltster, He went to France in September 1916 and was with his battalion for just two days in the field when he was killed in action in the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme. His home was in Marconi Road.
Ernie was born in Springfield on 24th May 1884, the eldest child of Harry Willsher (1861-1947) and Sarah Willsher (1863-1940).
His siblings included: Albert Clifford Willsher (1886-1978), Frederic Lionel Willsher (1889-1971), Stanley Edmund Willsher (1891-1972), Maude Annie Willsher (1895-1949),Edwin Victor Willsher (1897-1975), Edith Susan Willsher (1900-1986), Reginald George Willsher (1902-1964), Leonard Gordon Willsher (1904-1927), Nellie Myrtle Wilsher (1906-1975), Annie Sylvia Willsher (1908-1998), and Grace Mary Wilsher (1912-).
In 1891 the census recorded 6 year-old Henry with his parents and three brothers at Brook End, Springfield where his father was an agricultural labourer. A decade later the 1901 census found him aged 16, with his parents and five siblings at Brook End. His father was a waterman at Chelmsford's Sewage Works, where he was to eventually work for 45 years.
On 20th July 1910 Ernie married Annie Louisa Turner at All Saints' Church in Springfield, signing his middle name 'Earnest'. At the time he was aged 26, a maltster by profession and lived in Springfield. His bride, four years his junior also lived in Springfield.
The following year the 1911 census recorded the couple at 17 Steamer Row in Chelmsford with Annie's brother Evelyn boarding with them. Ernie was a maltster.
The couple had a daughter, Winifred Ethel Willsher, born on 30th April 1913.
On 9th June 1916 Ernie attested at Warley for Short Service (the duration of the war) and was accepted as Private G/15979 in the 6th Battalion of the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment).
At that time he was 31 years and seven months old, lived at 2 Marconi Road in Chelmsford, married and employed as a maltster. He was five feet five and a half inches tall with an expanded chest of 36 and a half inches. He weighed 150 pounds.
He embarked for France on 13th September 1916 and joined his battalion in the field on 29th September 1916 in the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme. Two days later he was killed in action.
WILLSHER, HARRY ERNEST*,
Private, 6th Battalion, Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
Ernie was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals which his widow acknowledged receipt of them on 24th September 1921. She was also awarded a weekly pension of 18 shillings and ninepence from 23rd April 1917.
In May1917 Ernie's brother Stanley, serving with the Machine Gun Corps, sent his mother a postcard giving a view of the Springfield Road/High Street corner in Chelmsford which he had purchased in a shop in Baghdad.
In November 1917 news reached home that Ernie's next youngest brother, Acting Corporal Albert Clifford Willsher of Laburnham Cottage, Brook End, Springfield, had been wounded in Gaza and was in hospital.
Ernie's widow married William Root in 1917 and she died in 1965.
Ernie has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 11 C) and the Springfield War Memorial at All Saints Church in Springfield.