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Ernest Codling

Private Ernest Codling (40635)
6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment
Formerly 3442 1st/4th Lincolnshire Regiment
and 20047 1st/5th Lincolnshire Regiment

Died 8th June 1917

under Construction

Birth

Name:
Ernest Codling

Date of birth:
28th August 1896

Place of Birth:
51 King Street, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England

Date of Birth registration:
Jul – Sept 1896

Place of Birth Registration:
Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England

Marriage

A marriage for Ernest has not been found.

Family

Father’s Name:
John Codling

Father’s DOB:
1867

Father’s Place of Birth:
Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England

Father’s Occupation:
Railway Porter

Mother’s Name:
Mary Elizabeth Cobb

Mother’s DOB:
1865

Mothers POB:
Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England

Mother’s Occupation:

Their Marriage:
1892 Lincoln District

Siblings: (Name), (DOB), (POB)
Albert Codling, 1893, Lincoln
Gertrude Mary Codling, 1894, Lincoln
Ernest Codling, 1896, Lincoln
John William Codling, 1906, Lincoln
Doris May Codling, 1910, Lincoln
Plus 3 more which names are unknown taken from the 1911 census

1901 Census:
Ernest is living with his parents at 37 Queen Street, Lincoln, Lincolnshire

1911 Census:
Ernest is living with his uncle William Marshall Codling at Watering Dyke Farm, Grange de Lings, Nettleham, Lincolnshire. The census gives him an age of 14 and he is listed as a farm servant (odd duties).

1902; Ernest started St Peter at Gowts infants school on the 11th June where he remained until 22nd August 1905. The National Schools admission register indicates that when leaving St Peter at Gowts Ernest went on to attend the newly re-organised St Andrews school in St Andrews Street Lincoln.

Relatives in services:
Ernest’s brother Albert also fought and was killed in WW1 and can be found on our page dedicated to the Bourne Memorial.

Newspaper Mentions

Military Records

Attestation Papers:
None found

WW1 Soldier’s Records:
None found

Soldier’s Died In The Great War:
These records show that Private Ernest Codling, 40635, 6th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment was killed in action on 8th June 1917 in the Western European Theatre in France and Flanders..

Pension Records:
Not yet available

Medals
Medal Card Index:
Ernest’s medal card index states that he was eligible for the following medals:-
The British Medal
The Victory Medal

Memorials
UK:Bourne, Bourne War Memorial in the Memorial Gardens

Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
In memory of Private E Codling, 40635, 6th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 8 June 1917
Remembered with honour, Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

More information:

Military Service Timeline:

Ernest’s elder brother Albert had joined the Lincolnshire Regiment before the war and had been killed in May 1915.

It is not known when Ernest enlisted but it is known that he enlisted into the Lincolnshire regiment at Lincoln.

Ernest’s army records are believed to have been destroyed in a warehouse fire in London in the blitz and so we can only look at his movements by piecing together any surviving information.

The medals roll show that Ernest did not serve abroad before the start of 1916 and so it is reasonable to suggest that his enlistment is most likely to have been in 1915.

The medal rolls also show that Ernest has three separate regimental numbers tied into different Battalions of the Lincolnshire regiment. It is likely that on enlistment he was assigned to the 4th Battalion (3442) to start training. It is most likely that he was then posted to the 5th Battalion (20047) or the 6th Battalion (40635) upon completion of training. The only other reason men were transferred from one active Battalion to another one would be if they were injured and then reassigned when they became fit to serve again.

We do know that when he was killed, Ernest was with the 6th Battalion and so we can only look at his movements during his last month through The History of the 6th Service Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment by Colonel F.G. Spring. The Battalion Diaries for this period being largely unreadable.

The maintenance of pressure on the Arras front, which kept the enemy constantly on the alert, enabled final preparations to be made for the opening of the Flanders offensive, which was to begin with the Battle of Messines.

The actual front selected for this operation extended between nine and ten miles from a point opposite St. Yves to Mount Sorrel. The objective of the attack was a group of hills known as the Messines-Wytschaete Ridge, which lies about midway between Armentières and Ypres. Messines itself is situated on the southern spur of the ridge which commands a wide view of the valley of the Lys and enfiladed the British lines to the south. North-west of Messines, Wytschaete, situated at the point of the salient and on the highest part of the ridge, commanded a view of almost the entire town of Ypres and all the old British positions in the Ypres Salient.

A special feature in the operations due to take place on the 7th of June was one original in warfare – the explosion of nineteen deep mines at the moment of assault. No such mining feat had ever before been attempted. In the construction of these mines, eight thousand yards of gallery had been driven and over one million pounds of explosives used.

Nine divisions were to take part in the actual assault, and three were in support, among which was the 11th Division who latter lay opposite Wytschaete, and in rear of the 16th Division at the centre of the attack.

Having left at Albert on the night of 17th/18th of May, the 6th Lincolns detrained at Caëstre and marched to Le Thieushouck where they were billeted. The first three days at Le Thieushouck were spent in interior economy and company training, although the training was greatly restricted by the highly cultivated state of the surrounding ground. On May 22nd the Division was informed that it was to take part in the coming operations, and two days later the Battalion marched to a training area situated on the frontier between France and Belgium, about six miles in rear of the Wytschaete sector. The following two weeks where were spent in training for the attack.

The 11th Division received orders to pass through the 16th Division when the latter had captured its objective. The role of the 33rd Brigade was to pass through and capture a trench system three miles east of Wytschaete.

At midday on the 6th of June orders were received to attack the following morning. Preparations were quickly made and at 11.30 p.m. the Lincolnshire marched to Butterfly Farm, two miles from the front line, to await final orders.

As dawn was breaking on the 7th, there was a sudden rumbling of the earth, huge flames shot up, clouds of smoke, dust and debris, a rocking of the ground – as the nineteen mines “went up.” Before one was able to regain one’s normal faculties, there was another deafening crash as the barrage roared out from a thousand guns. The 6th Lincolns had taken up a position among the “Heavies” and were almost stunned by the ear-splitting din of the monsters as they roared and poured a hail of big shells upon the wretched Germans.

The 6th Lincolns waited in suspense for the first results of the attack. The barrage still continued but at about 9 a.m., word was received that the 16th Division had taken their first two objectives and were pushing on to the third.

At about 11 a.m., orders were received to advance to the Vierstraat Switch, a trench running parallel to, and about a thousand yards behind, the British line.

At about midday the battalion reached its destination and the men had dinner, while Lieut.-Colonel Gater went to Brigade Headquarters for further orders.

Just after 2 p.m., he returned with the information that at 3 p.m., another barrage would fall under cover of which the battalion was to attack the third objective.

The forming-up place was to be two miles away on the further slope of the Wytschaete Ridge but the intervening ground was badly cut up by shell-holes, broken trenches and communication trenches full of troops and wounded men. The battalion, being scattered over a thousand yards of trench, had to be got together, and so as not to be late, Battalion Headquarters and ‘D’ Company started off and arrived at the forming-up line just as the barrage opened. The other companies had not yet come up, so Lieut.-Colonel Gater decided to push on with ‘D’ Company for fear of losing the barrage. ‘D’ Company shook out into artillery formation and advanced. Australian troops were on the right and portions of the 6th Border Regiment on the left, with the 7th South Staffords and 9th Sherwood Foresters in support and reserve respectively.

The enemy’s artillery opened fire as soon as our barrage fell but his barrage was weak and ill-directed, and many of his guns were effectively smothered by our fire. ‘D’ Company extended into line in two waves after passing through the first line of posts held by the 16th Division. Very little opposition was encountered: the enemy either ran or surrendered until the objective was nearly reached. Here the Germans attempted a counter-attack but with the assistance of tanks it was broken up, and by 5 p.m. the objective had been gained. Casualties during the attack had been extraordinarily light, ‘D’ Company losing only two or three men. The heaviest losses were in Battalion Headquarters: Lieutenant F.C. Thorn and Regimental-Sergeant-Major Smith and twenty Other Ranks being wounded.

The senior Company Commander, Captain Howis, brought up the remaining three companies with very few casualties. The appearance of these companies, comparatively fresh and intact, was of enormous value in consolidating the position. As dusk was falling the German guns began to shell the position heavily. Captain Sutherland was wounded in the face, and a platoon of ‘C’ Company, holding a strong point, was entirely wiped out (with the exception of and Lieutenant Read, who was badly wounded).

Early next morning on the 8th, another counter-attack developed which at one time looked serious until A Company, with Lewis gun and rifle-fire, succeeded in breaking it up. Second Lieutenant Rowlands was wounded and ‘A’ Company had altogether about a dozen casualties. One N.C.O. – Sergeant Biggadike – was conspicuous for his bravery; he died very gallantly, successfully maintaining his post which the enemy attempted to rush.

Lieut.-Colonel G.H. Gater was wounded in the face when leading ‘D’ Company to the attack but with great self-sacrifice remained at duty until his battalion went out of the line.

There was another counter-attack on the evening of the 9th, accompanied by heavy shell-fire, during which, to everyone’s regret, the Battalion Medical Officer, Captain Frere, was killed, and many other casualties were suffered.

On the night of the 10th/11th of June, the 6th Lincolns were relieved by the 34th Brigade and moved back to camp near Kemmel. The total casualties of the Battalion during the Battle of Messines 1917 were six officers and one hundred and sixty Other Ranks.

The Battalion remained in camp until the 18th of June, engaged in salvage work, and then began to march back in easy stages to Ganspette.

Ernest Codling was killed in action on the 8th June taking part in the action described above.

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