Rank or Title
Date of Birth
22 Dec 1886
Date of Death
23 Mar 1918
War time / or Pre War occupation
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
L-Cpl Ernest David Rattle, 40902, 1st Herts Regiment, was killed in action in France on March 23rd, 1918. His widow, in ill health and with five small children under the age of seven to care for in Luton, had heard nothing from him since March 18th.
Ernest had been promised home leave, and widow Alice at 12 Naseby Road, Luton, was daily expecting a telegram to say he was on his way. But it was not until August 1919 that the War Office concluded that he had been killed in action or died of wounds on March 23rd, 1918.
Alice's worst fears had been realised in January 1919 when a Red Cross notification included a statement from Pte L. Oliver, of St Albans. He described a comrade named Rattle who had told him he lived in Luton. “I saw his dead body in our communication trench at St Emilie. He had been shot through the head. I never heard if he was afterwards buried. The Germans took our positions.”
L-Cpl Rattle's relatives later saw Pte Oliver, who had been taken as a prisoner of war and later repatriated. His description left them in no doubt that the soldier concerned was L-Cpl Rattle. He told them that 300 British soldiers had been told off to take up their positions in a shallow trench, which left the greater part of their bodies exposed. They did so, but the Germans encircled them with machine guns, and they were all either killed or taken prisoner.
Suffolk-born Ernest had married Alice Mary Chalkley in St Albans in 1910 and the couple moved to Luton, where Ernest carried on his trade as a butcher, becoming manager of the London Central Meat Co's shop in Cheapside. He had had to join up in May 1917 and went to France the following August.