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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


08 December 2016

CCF Cadets from Bangor Grammar School present the life and tragic death of Lt Ernest Henry Hewitt, a former pupil from Bangor.

In 1914, 144 young men from Bangor Grammar School took up the call to join and do the patriotic duty for king and country. A number of these young men never returned, only to die and be buried on foreign soil. One of these men was Ernest Henry Hewitt.

Ernest Hewitt was born on 5 November 1885 in Belfast, the second of James and Jeannie Hewitt’s four sons.  He was educated at Bangor Endowed School, RBAI; St Jude’s School Belfast and Queen’s University Belfast, where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps.

Before the War, Ernest worked for an insurance company and he was a member of the Queen’s University OTC. He also played rugby for the North of Ireland Rugby Club. Just like so many others, before the War, he lived an ordinary life.

Ernest offered his services to the War Office the day after war was declared and was commissioned into the 4th Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment on 22 Aug 2014.  He went to France in May 1915.


His promotion to Lieutenant was gazetted on 16 Jun 1915, the day after he was killed in action at Locon near Festubert at the age of 29.

Ernest was described as being “seen to fall on his left side, apparently mortally wounded, while heroically leading his men between the second and third German trenches and not heard of since”.  He was officially reported missing in action and his body was never recovered.  His commanding officer said “Lt Hewitt, since he joined us, has become the most popular officer in the Battalion.  He was a splendid soldier”.

He was mentioned in Despatches by Field Marshall Sir John French for “gallant and distinguished service in the field” (London Gazette 1 Jan 1916) and commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.

He is also commemorated on Bangor and District War memorial; on the QUB War Memorial; in the QUB book of remembrance; in the RBL Album in North Down Museum; on the North of Ireland Football Club Memorial Plaque and on the memorial plaques in the RBL Bangor Branch, Bangor Parish Church of Ireland (St Comgall) and RBAI.

He is not mentioned in the school’s war memorial because it was erected in 1920 and at this time he was accounted as missing and not dead.  He is one of the 5 missing names off the school’s memorial but he is mentioned in Bangor Abbey’s tribute to the fallen soldiers of WW1 and in the school archives.

Two of Ernest’s brothers, Holt and Willie, were also killed in the first world war, both on 1 July 1916.

Ernest was a hero and led from the front, but his parents must also be remembered, for the sacrifice of 3 sons so that others could be free.

The cadets to thank for today's presentation are Lance Corporal Sydney Murray 15, Lance Corporal Carl Palnoch 16 and Lance Corporal Oliver Wilson 16 - photographed below: