Private Ernest Baxter


Ernest Baxter was born on 10 March 1888 at Annaghanoon, Waringstown, County Down, the first of four children of National School teacher Francis Baxter and his wife Anna Maria (née McCandless). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Donaghcloney, County Down, with his parents and three siblings.

Baxter enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 7 June 1916, together with his younger brother John Baxter. He was issued regimental number 2190. He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve camp until November 1916, when he and around 100 other North Irish Horsemen, including his brother, volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles. The formal transfer took place on 7 December (Baxter was issued regimental number 40853), and on that day the men embarked for France. There they were posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, joining it on the Somme front on 12 December.

During the early months of 1917 Baxter fell ill with 'trench feet'. The condition was so serious that on 16 October 1917 he was discharged, being 'no longer physically fit for war service' (paragraph 392 (xvi), King's Regulations). He was granted a pension, his level of disability being assessed at 20 per cent.


Baxter's brother John was killed in action at the Battle of Langemarck on 16 August 1917.