Ernest Henry's Story.
Son of Mr. John Davenport and Mrs. Florence Davenport of Boarded Barn, Odd Rode, Cheshire, moving to Spring Bank, Scholar Green, Stoke on Trent and later 29, Lion Street, Congleton, Cheshire. In 1911 at the age of 19, he resided as a lodger at Scholar Green where he was employed as a Cattle Labourer by a Mr. Will Kirkham. He had six sisters, Harriet, Miriam Ethel, Beatrice, Ada Ellen, Amelia and Annie Davenport, along with four brothers, George, Horace, Joel and Allen Davenport. Pre-War he had served as a Territorial with the 1st/7th Battalion the Cheshire Regiment enlisting in 1913.
Private Ernest Henry Davenport enlisted in the 1st/ 7th Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment at Congleton on the 18th of November 1915, his given age at that time was 24. He was posted to the 3 rd/7th Battalion on the 11th of January 1916 and promoted to Lance Corporal on the 11th of March. He embarked from Southampton on the 7th of September 1916 arriving in Rouen the following day, where he joined up with No 4 Infantry Brigade and was posted to the 11th Battalion. On the 7th of June 1917, he suffered gunshot wounds to the arm and returned to England on the H.S. St David and was admitted to the Military Hospital Aux, Netherfield Road, Liverpool where he remained until the 12th of July. On return to duty, he was transferred to the 3rd Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment. He was posted with the Expeditionary Forces to France embarking on the 5th of September 1917, as a " Private". On the 7th of September 1917, he joined the 41st Brigade and was transferred to the 15th Battalion and on the 15th of September he was posted to the 1 St/6th Battalion.
The Third Battle of Ypres (often called Passchendaele) had started on the 31st of July. It had been a disaster for the 1St/6th Cheshire Regiment. Considerable numbers of replacement troops came to the Battalion in early August and the next couple of weeks were spent in training. After a period in the front line, the Battalion was relieved to billets on the 6th of September and would spend the next two weeks at Chippewa Camp near Ypres. On the evening of the 19th of September 1917, the Battalion moved forward to assembly positions in Shrewsbury Forest, to the south east of Ypres. The men were in position by 02:00 hours on the 20th and were intended to be part of the Divisional reserve troops supporting the attack. Two companies were in a forward position and two companies in support of a battalion of the King's Royal Rifle Corps. At 07:40 hours one of the two reserve companies moved forward to reinforce the King's Royal Rifle Corps. About this time the Commanding Officer was instructed to proceed to the Ravine to reconnoitre for an opportunity to deliver a counter attack with the remaining two Companies in reserve. After reconnaissance, he reported that the situation did not demand a counter attack and instructions were issued to send one Company forward in the attack made by the 41st Division. Shortly afterwards, the second reserve company went forward to reinforce the left flank. Later in the day, one of the two forward companies were ordered into an attack on a German strongpoint near Bassevile Beek. The Official history of the Cheshire Regiment describes them as advancing with great gallantry under machine gun fire, capturing their objective at 07:10 hours. They held this position all night, in the morning, they found that the troops on the flanks had failed to advance sufficiently and they were now being fired on from both sides. The Cheshire's were compelled to withdraw back to the line held by the division. 50 men had been killed. Ernest Henry Davenport was reported as missing on the 20th of September 1917 and it was presumed that as no further information had been received that death had occurred on that day. He had only returned to the front five days earlier. His papers contained a letter from his mother Florence requesting that if he had any effects they should be returned to her. Not unusually, it took over two years before his family received a memorial scroll. Another Congleton soldier Private Arthur Edwin Brough was wounded in action and died on the 29th of September during the same operation. The Next of Kin were notified on the 29th of September 1917. His body was never recovered, but he is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for the reserach on Ernest.