Remembering Wirksworth’s heroes

editorial image

June was 11 years old when her grandfather, Ernest Wain, passed away aged 67.

“You spoke when you were spoken to with him,” she recalls. “Men weren’t the way they are now with their grandchildren back then.

“You looked at him and you looked away.”

Ernest, who lived with his family at Warmbrook, Wirksworth, held down many jobs before joining the army – he worked as a goods porter tape weaver, stone quarry man and iron wire cleaner in the years leading up to the war.

Both he and his brother, George, had joined the Sherwood Foresters. It was while in service overseas that Ernest was gassed by the enemy.

The gas affected his lungs and his ears and he became completely deaf.

Despite his stern appearance, Ernest had a softer side, which he showed in a letter he wrote to his son Cyril while stationed at Brockton Army Camp, Staffordshire.

It read: “Just a few lines to you and I hope you are feeling better.

“Give my love to mamma. I hope you are being a good boy.

“Accept my fondest love to yourself from your loving Dad xxxx xxxx.”

Ernest survived the war, passing away in 1943, however his brother George was not so lucky.

Tragically, he died aged 38 in France of a valvular disease of the heart on August 22, 1918 – just a few short months before the war ended in November.

“He must have been a casualty of war because he had a casualty number,” June says.

“He must have had a heart problem when he went to war and then he became a casualty.” George, of Canterbury Terrace, Wirksworth, had worked as a tape weaver prior to going to war and was married to Mary Wain.

He is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery in France.

June, 81, decided she wanted to research her family history after her husband, Arthur, passed away in 2000.

“I have always been interested in things like that,” she said.

In fact, June has done so much research on the subject she has written her own book, which she has given to Wirksworth Heritage Centre to help with its First World War project.