(16) Ernest Albert Jennings
Appealed against Conscription
Private Ernest Albert Jennings (16) was born in the 3rd qtr. of 1885 to Elijah and Maria Jennings at South Benfleet. It is almost certain that he lived there his entire life, and his mother was living in 1 Hope Cottages (No. 209), Hopes Green in 1918.
He had been for several years the acting sexton of South Benfleet Parish Church. He was one of the first to receive his conscription papers. The church applied for him to be exempted but the application was refused. The Newsman reported on the 15th April 1916 on page 5 under “Rochford Rural”:
The Vicar and Churchwardens of South Benfleet applied for the exemption of Ernest Albert Jennings, aged 29, Sexton, clerk, etc., South Benfleet. – Mr H. Beckett, one of the churchwardens, said the greatest difficulty was in finding a substitute to dig the graves. – The Chairman said in other parishes a grave-digger was borrowed. – The application was refused.
He therefore enlisted in the 15th Battalion of the Essex Regiment at Southend in May 1916. The Southend Standard 15th February 1917 said:
(He) was attached to a works battalion where he contracted a severe chill while road making on the lines of communication. Soon afterwards severe inflammation set in, and he died in hospital at Rouen a few days later, on 16th January 1917.
He was 31 years old.