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Ernest Reeves was born in Bolton in 1896. In the 1901 census the family is shown living at No.49 Ainsworth Lane, Tonge, Bolton. The family home is a next to gable end red brick 2 up 2 down terraced house, still standing today. His father, Charles Albert Reeves is 38 yrs of age married to Mary Ellen Reeves nee Loynd 35yrs. The eldest child Ethel is 14yrs, followed by Ernest 5 yrs and younger brother Albert 3yrs. Also residing at the home is Charles’s brother George 32yrs. Both Charles and George are Brass Finishers/ Safe and Lock Manufacturers, born in Wolverhampton.  Ernest’s parents were married in Bolton in the September quarter of 1886 and by 1903 his mother had died.

Ernest had followed his father into the Brass Finishing business, and before the war worked for Messrs Chatwood, Locksmiths, Bolton and was a member of the choir at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.  By the onset of the war in September 1914 he had enlisted into the 1/5th battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regt, going over to France on 12th February 1915.

A piece appearing in the Bolton Journal & Guardian of 13th October 1916 carried a story of how Pte Reeves had been wounded in the head and left hand on 9th November 1915. At this time the regiment was at Steenwerke, but there is no inclusion in the war diary of any casualties that day. He was wounded a second time in the shoulder by shrapnel on 20th September 1916 at Delville Wood. On this date the regiment were in the trenches north east of Delville Wood, and in the war diary casualties are noted as 1 O.R. Killed and 5 O.R. wounded on this day.

In the Bolton Journal edition of 20th April 1917 it states that, Reeves had seen a considerable amount of trench fighting and whilst acting as a stretcher bearer he was wounded, presumably this is the shoulder wound, going on to say that he spent six months in hospital as a result.  It also featured a photographic likeness of Reeves and the particulars of the ceremony at Bolton Town Hall when Pte Reeves had the Military Medal pinned on his chest by the Mayor of Bolton Alderman Knowles-Edge, in the presence of his family. It was stated that the MM was for gallantry in bringing in the wounded under heavy shell fire, at the same time the Doctor won the MC for the same actions. His award of the MM appearing in the London Gazette of 21st December 1916, barely six months since the beginning of this particular award.

Private Reeves medals were sold on a well known auction site in March 2017

Besides the M.M. Reeves was issued with a Silver War Badge, No: 322944 and a 1915 Star trio to make up the grouping, this complete medal group has recently appeared on the market in March 2017.

Garry Farmer
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