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Ernest Henry Haykings

Ernest Henry Haykings was born in Norton in December 1884, and his birth registered (as Haykins) the first quarter of 1885 at Malton. He was the second son of Isaac and Sarah Jane (nee Hornby) Haykings who married in the Malton area in the second quarter of June 1873. In 1881 Isaac was living with Sarah Jane and their three children and working as a gardener at Welham Lodge in Norton and it seems safe to assume that Ernest was born there.

By 1891 the family had grown to six children and they had moved to Old Maltongate.

1891 census – resident at Old Malton Gate

HAKINGS, Isaac, Head, Married, M, 41, Gardener, Wintringham Yorkshire,  
HAKINGS, Sarah, Wife, Married, F, 41, , Normanby Yorkshire,
HAKINGS, John, Son, , M, 17, , Wharram Yorkshire,
HAKINGS, Mary L, Daughter, , F, 13, , Wharram Yorkshire,
HAKINGS, Sarah, Daughter, , F, 9, Scholar, Welham Yorkshire,
HAKINGS, Ernest, Son, , M, 6, Scholar, Welham Yorkshire,
HAKINGS, Percy, Son, , M, 4, , Welham Yorkshire,
HAKINGS, George, Son, , M, 1, , Malton Yorkshire,

 They were probably then living at number 29 where they were living in 1901.  By this stage Ernest was working alongside two of his siblings at Whitewall, Norton; Ernest was learning the trade of a whitesmith, while his sister Sarah was in domestic service and his brother Percy was an apprentice saddler.

1901 census – resident at 29, Old Malton Gate

HAYKINS, Isaac, Head, Married, M, 52, Gardener Domestic, Wintringham Yorkshire,
HAYKINS, Sarah Jane, Wife, Married, F, 52, , ,
HAYKINS, John William, Son, Single, M, 27, Ironmonger's Warehouseman, Wharram Le ST Yorkshire,
HAYKINS, Sarah Elizabeth, Daughter, Single, F, 19, Servant Domestic, Whitewall Norton Yorkshire,
HAYKINS, Ernest Henry, Son, Single, M, 17, Apprentice Whitesmith, Whitewall Norton Yorkshire,
HAYKINS, Percy, Son, Single, M, 14, Saddler's Apprentice, Whitewall Norton Yorkshire,
HAYKINS, George, Son, Single, M, 11, , Malton Yorkshire,
HAYKINS, Margeret, Daughter, Single, F, 8, , Malton Yorkshire,

By 1911 Isaac had died and Ernest seems to have taken on Isaac’s old job as gardener at Welham Lodge.

1911 census – resident at 29 Pump Alley East Old Maltongate
HAYKINGS, Sarah, Head, Widow, F, 58, , Normanby Yorks,
HAYKINGS, Earnest, Son, Single, M, 26, Gardener Domestic, Welham Yorks,
HAYKINGS, Percy, Son, Single, M, 24, Joiner, Welham Yorks,
HAYKINGS, George, Son, Single, M, 21, Ropemaker, Malton Yorks,
HAYKINGS, Kathleen, Granddaughter, , F, 6, , Malton Yorks,

In 1915 Ernest was called up and took the Oath of Allegiance on 16th November 1915.  He was then living at Kirkham Abbey and working as a gardener. On 29th February 1916 he was allocated to the East Yorkshire regiment and gave his next of kin as his brother John, then living at 10 Wheelgate Square, Sarah Jane being now dead. His medical report shows him to have been a slight man of just less than 5 foot7 inches in height with less than perfect eyesight and having vaccination scars.

Ernest was on Home service until he was sent with the Expeditionary Force to France on the 9th July and joined the 8th Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment on the 22nd of that month as part of a draft of 342 men sent to reinforce the battalion after an attack on German lines on 13th and 14th July left them with casualties amounting to 19 Officers and 440 other ranks.  

On the 22nd the battalion moved into Bernafay Wood where they came under heavy shelling. On 27th July they moved to Meaulte where they received more reinforcements from the Northumberland Fusiliers and set about re-organising the battalion and cleaning up. They were inspected by the Brigadier-General who said “You are a portion of what is called the New Army. I belong to the old Army, but if this is the New Army then it is good enough. It is you men in the ranks who have brought about this victory, and it is you whom we thank. In the advance you were held up by the wire, but you hung on. You have been, in this advance only a small portion of the troops engaged, but a very important portion and you performed your task successfully.” At this time the weather was hot enough to present problems – route marches were taken early in the morning to avoid heatstroke.  

At the beginning of August they moved back to just behind the front lines where they provided working and carrying parties for the Front Line until on the 17th they were posted to the front line relieving the 9th Brigade just S.E. of Guillemont.  At 4.30 a.m. on 18th  the commanding officer received orders to attack, but the relief could not be completed till 1.15 p.m. and so the attack did not start until 2.45 p.m. The Battalion went over the Parapet in two waves, each Company carrying a Lewis gun. Immediately the Germans set up a heavy Machine Gun barrage and shelled heavily with shrapnel and High Explosive. The battalion pushed forward under protective fire, and after an abortive attempt to hold the German trench while most of the battalion sheltered in shell holes, the battalion withdrew.  The 19th was spent retrieving the wounded and burying the dead while still under heavy fire from both the Germans and their own artillery until they were relieved by the Lancashire Fusiliers and withdrew to dug-outs by the old British Front Line at Carnoy. Six officers had been wounded, 34 Other Ranks killed, 77 wounded or missing and 3 suffering from shell shock.

Among the dead was Ernest, killed in action on the 18th of August 1916 having served a grand total of 277 days from his enlistment, and less than a month in France. His body was recovered during clearance of the battlefields in 1917, and was buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.2 . His remains were initially buried as “unknown British soldier” and only later identified by his number stamped on the spoon and fork he was carrying.  He also carried a watch marked “W.E. Frid”, a match box and a denture.

Ernest is commemorated on the memorial in St Leonard’s Church and on the Town memorial and is also commemorated on his parents’ gravestone in New Malton Cemetery.