Date of birth: Q1 1923
Parents: John Cecil and Edith M Merralls
Address: 31 Queens Square, Warwick
Occupation: Worked at his father's blacksmith and agricultural shop in Castle Lane, Warwick
Ernie was born in Warwick in Q1 1923. His father, John Cecil (1889-1957) was a Londoner and had been married before, in 1910, to Violet Wilson. John was a Blacksmith and had served with the 19th Hussars during the First World War. Ernie had two half siblings from this marriage – John William Merralls (1910-1986) and Violet A Merralls b1914).
John married again, to Ernie’s mother Edith M Holmwood in 1915 in Norwich. Ernie was the second child of that marriage – he had an older brother John Cecil junior (1920-2006). John and Ernie were both born in Warwick so the family had moved into the area between 1915 and 1920.
The 1939 Register shows the family living at 31 Queens Square and John Cecil junior has joined his father in the Blacksmiths on Castle Lane, where Ernie was also employed. Ernie was only 16 at the time of the register.
Many people from Warwick attended Ernie’s funeral in Cambridge where he was buried with full military honours. They included his father’s family from London as well as his friend Bill Cohen. Many others sent wreaths.
Both of Ernie’s parents died in Warwick – John in 1957 and Edith in 1972.
Rank & Number: Warrant Officer, 1210234
Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Brigade/Division: 166 (Huddersfield's Own) Squadron
Date of death: 17th November 1943
Cause of death/Battle: Died during a night flying exercise when his aircraft crashed
Commemorated/Buried: Buried in Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridge. Grave 14119
Commemorated locally at: St Paul's Church
Ernest enlisted when he was only 17, which was underage, by telling the recruiters he was a year older. ‘He trained as a wireless operator at No 2 Signals School, Yatesbury, Wiltshire and qualified on 27th May 1941. He then went on to train as an air gunner, qualifying as an average shot, but with exceptional night vision. He took part in almost 40 operational missions against the enemy in France, Germany and Italy, including the first low-level daylight bombing raid over Augsberg, Germamy. He initially served with 97 (Straits Settlements) Squadron, out of FAF Coningsby and then with 166 Squadron, out of FAF Kirmington, Lincolnshire. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), which was gazetted on Friday 1st January, 1943.’
- Unlocking Warwick Research Group
- Warwick Advertiser excerpts courtesy of Warwickshire County Record Office