|Date of Birth||March 1, 1895|
|Place of Birth||Camberwell, London|
|Next of Kin||Charles Baker (father), 63 Rye Hill Park, Peckham Rye, London, England|
|Trade / Calling||Clerk and Traveller|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Branch||Canadian Ordnance Corps|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Address at Enlistment||184 Alexander Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba|
|Date of Enlistment||January 5, 1916|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||December 27, 1984|
|Age at Death||89|
Sergeant Ernest Roland Baker enlisted in January 1916 and served in France with the 44th Battalion. He was wounded in June 1917 and spent the rest of the war in Great Britain, returning to Canada in February 1919.
Ernest was the son of George Baker and Ann Jane Watts of London, England. Ann was born and raised in London and George was from Bedfordshire. They were married in Walworth, London in February 1882 and they had seven children: Charles William John (1883), Percival Edwards (1884), Mabel Elizabeth Maria (1886), Ann Lillian (1890), Ernest Roland (1895), Edward Charles (1899) and another child who died young. The oldest son also died as an infant. Ernest was born in Camberwell, London on 1 March 1895 and baptized on 21 April in the parish church. His father Charles worked as a hotel porter until the early 1890s then as a labourer for the borough council.
Ernest’s older brother Percy immigrated to Canada in 1906, going first to Winnipeg then settling in Kenora, Ontario. He married Mary Fletcher in Kenora in 1911. Ernest immigrated in the spring of 1913, sailing from Liverpool in May on the SS Cymric and arriving in Portland, Maine. He was 18 years old, his occupation was printer and he was going to Kenora, Ontario to join his brother. By the time he enlisted he was living in the neighbouring town of Keewatin and working as a clerk. His brother worked as a hardware salesman at Keewatin Hardware.
Ernest enlisted in Winnipeg on 5 January 1916, signing up with the 144th Battalion (Winnipeg Rifles). Next of kin was his father Charles in London, England but there was also a note to notify his brother Percy in Keewatin. After training in Manitoba over the summer the 144th Battalion headed overseas that fall, embarking on the SS Olympic on 18 September and arriving at Liverpool about ten days later. In January 1917 the men were absorbed into the 18th Reserve Battalion. On 20 March Ernest was drafted to a front line unit, the 44th Battalion, and sent to France. The battalion was in the 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division. Ernest joined them in the field in April, about a week after the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
After the battle ended the 4th Division took part in further operations north of Vimy. In early June they were ordered to capture several fortified positions between the town of Avion and the Souchez River. One of the objectives was the hamlet of La Coulotte. The operation began at midnight on 2-3 June and the 44th Battalion was involved in heavy fighting that day. They reached the hamlet but could not hold on and before dawn on 3 June they were forced back to their original position. From the War Diary of the 44th Battalion casualties on 3 June were 29 killed, 145 wounded and 77 missing. Ernest was one of the wounded, hit in the right elbow by a machine gun bullet which fractured a bone in his arm.
On 4 June Ernest was admitted to the 3rd Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne and five days later he was evacuated to England on HMT St. Patrick. He spent a month at the General Hospital in Nottingham and two months at the Woodcote Park convalescent centre. He was discharged to duty in mid-September. The following month he was posted to the Canadian Ordnance Corps as an Acting Sergeant, Clerk Class 1. In August 1918 he was transferred to the Quarter-Master General’s Inspection Department as a Sergeant and Clerk. After six months there he was sent to Kinmel Park to await his return to Canada. He embarked from Liverpool on 23 February 1919 on the SS Belgic, arriving at Halifax on 1 March. He was discharged on 3 April in Winnipeg.
Ernest stayed in Winnipeg for a few months, having further medical exams and arranging for his pension. In August 1919 he returned to England to get married, sailing from Montreal on the SS Megantic and arriving at Liverpool on 2 September. He married Kathleen Tattershall on 11 October at St. George’s Church in Lewisham, London. Kathleen was born on 3 October 1896 in Thrapston, Northamptonshire, the daughter of John Tattershall and Mary Gribble. She was the middle of five children and her only brother, Stanley John Tattershall, served as an officer in the Royal Field Artillery during the war.
Ernest and Kathleen embarked for Canada on 18 October on the SS Megantic, arriving in Montreal about a week later. They made their home in Toronto where Ernest’s brother, Percy, also lived. Kathleen’s brother, Stanley Tattershall, immigrated in 1921 and he settled in Toronto too. He served as secretary-treasurer of the National Club for twelve years and died in Toronto in 1933, at age 39. Ernest worked as a clerk, salesman and purchasing agent and he and his wife lived in the Weston and Leaside neighbourhoods. He passed away at Wellesley Hospital in Toronto on 27 December 1984, at age 89. He was survived by Kathleen and one son, Maurice.
By Becky Johnson