LIEUTENANT ERNEST ARTHUR HEBBES
Died 28th November 1917
Nigeria Regiment, 4th Battalion, Royal West African Frontier Force. (Attached from Suffolk Regiment, 4th Battalion Territorials)
Born: 1876, Great Catworth, Huntingdon
Ernest was the fourth son of Henry and Elizabeth Hebbes. Henry was Sexton of St. Michaels for 28 years, (1893-1921) and they had had their Golden Wedding in July, 1917. Ernest was closely connected to the church and also the Unionist party. He worked as an election agent for the Unionist candidate in a previous election, and acted as agent in the Isle of Wight, where the Unionists took the Liberal seat of Sir E. J. Seeley.
He was gazetted in 1915, and sent to West Africa for “…special Government work” in October of 1916. There was fierce fighting in West Africa, with both sides using local natives in their armies.
He was returning on the SS Apapa for leave, after being in Africa for a year, when it was torpedoed by U-boat U-96. The SS Apapa was a 7832 tonne merchant ship from the Elder, Dempster and Co. line, which had been armed for defence. It was sunk 3 miles northeast of Lynas Point, off Anglesea, at 4am. No warning was given and 77 lives were lost, split about evenly between crew and passengers. The U-boat fired a second shot when the life boats were launched. Ernest was aged 41.
The news was brought by his brother. Ernest was said to have seen much action in West Africa. He is listed on the Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton. Listed on the Woburn Sands Memorial, and also two memorials in Lowestoft, those of St Margarets and St Johns.
His army service papers have not survived, which may have told us much about his “…special Government work…”
One of his brothers was a 4th Engineer on HMS Dreadnaught, and his sister Ethel served with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Services from 16th August 1914 until 16th February 1919. She was stationed in Salonika from February 1916, although she applied for leave for urgent family business in December 1917, probably on the news of the death of her brother.
Page last updated Jan. 2019.