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Ernest Hardinge Veitch (1876-1959)

Printer from Durham served as captain in the 8th DLI

Ernest Hardinge Veitch was born in Durham on 17 October 1876. His father was John Hardinge Veitch, a printer and stationer from Huddersfield. His mother was Mary Louise Veitch nee Ord originally from Durham. John and Mary got married in Durham during 1876. Ernest was their first-born child and had four brothers and four sisters.

In 1881 the family were living at Neville Court in Durham and the census records Ernest’s father, John, as employing two men and three boys. He ran a printing business on North Road in Durham. In 1891 Ernest was a boarder at The Royal Kepier Grammar School in Houghton le Spring along with his younger brother John.

Ernest’s father John died in 1898 and by the time of the 1901 census, the family had moved to Cross House, Neville’s Cross. Ernest’s mother is listed as the head of the household and also the employer for the business. Ernest was working as a printer in the family business. Ernest’s mother Mary died in 1907. At the time of the 1911 census Ernest was now the head of the household at Cross House in Neville’s Cross and was the employer for the printing business. Ernest was living with six of his siblings at this time.

Ernest served in the ranks of the 2nd Durham Royal Garrison Artillery between 1900 and 1904 and from 1904 until 1908 with the 3rd Volunteer Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. Ernest was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 8th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (DLI) on 21 May 1908. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 18 February 1910 and then to the rank of captain on 6 December 1912.

Ernest embarked from Folkstone on 19 April 1915 and his medal roll states he entered the theatre of war in France the following day, on 20 April 1915. As part of the 8th Battalion DLI, in the role of captain, he served at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in this month. On 10 November 1916, he became staff captain to the 151st Brigade.

He was mentioned in dispatches on 15 May 1917 as captain to the 8th DLI.

Ernest received the Military Cross, listed in the London Gazette dated 1 January 1918. He then went on to be awarded a bar to this Military Cross. The citation for this, reported in the London Gazette on 18 September 1918, is as follows:

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He showed untiring energy in supplying the fighting troops with ammunition and rations. Though units were unlocated and mixed up, he never failed to get up their supplies, personally leading them through heavy shell fire. His devotion to duty was most conspicuous.”

Ernest continued to serve in France and Belgium until 6 June 1918. Ernest was employed as Deputy Assistant Adjutant General (DAAG) from 15 January 1919 until 15 April 1919, and then as an adjutant for the 8th DLI from 24 April 1920. He became battalion major on 21 March 1922 and continued to serve as adjutant until 6 November 1923. On 28 February 1925 he was transferred to the Territorial Force Reserve. He retired from the reserve on 30 October 1926 retaining his rank. In this same year, Ernest published a history of the 8th DLI in his book ‘8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry, 1793-1926’.

Ernest returned to the printing business after the war, in addition to his part time Territorial Army roles. Records from 1921 show he was working at the business on North Road and living on Saddler Street. Ernest married Amelie Marjorie Helen Spowart at Durham in the first few months of 1921. Amelie was a doctor’s daughter, originally from Norwich. On some records Amelie is known by her middle name of Marjorie.

In addition to the Military Cross with bar, Ernest was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal for his service in World War One. He was also awarded the Territorial Decoration which was announced in the London Gazette dated 4 November 1919. This was awarded for a minimum of 20 years’ service in the territorial force, with war years counting double. Ernest’s medals form part of the DLI medal collection. More information about these medals and a photo of Ernest can be found at the following link:

During World War Two, at the age of 65, Ernest enrolled into the Local Defence Volunteers on 3 August 1941. He became part of the 11th Battalion Durham Home Guard. Ernest died on 27 July 1959 in the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, leaving his effects to his widow Marjorie Helen Veitch.

Ernest’s brother, Clifford Beaumont Veitch, also served during the First World War. He was part of the Royal Naval Air Service with the service number F30145.

Obituary from a local paper (supplied by Ian Main):

“Ernie” Veitch

Brevet-Major Ernest Hardinge Veitch, one of the best loved officers in the 8th Battalion The Durham Light Infantry in the first world war, has gone from us. “Ernie” Veitch, as he was familiarly known not only to his brother officers but to NCOs and other ranks, gave himself without stint in the service of his country. There are many examples on record of his inspiring leadership and of his goodness of heart. He was devoted not only to the TA unit but to the County Regiment and there was a pang of regret when increasing years and poor health compelled him to stand aside. His ancestors were at one time proprietors of the Durham Chronicle, and since the beginning of trades unionism in this county the family have been the printers to the Durham Miners’ Association.

Civil Parish: Neville's Cross

Birth date: 17-Oct-1876

Death date: 27-Jul-1959

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Neville Court, Crossgate, Durham (1891 census)
Cross House, Neville’s Cross (1901 and 1911 censuses)
73 Saddler Street (1921)
24 North Road (Enrolment form for local defence Volunteers 1941)

Education: Royal Kepier Grammar School, Houghton Le Spring (1891 census)

Employment: Printer (1901 census)

Family: Parents: John Hardinge Veitch, Mary Louise Veitch nee Ord
Siblings: John H Veitch, Charles N. Veitch, Sydney N. Veitch, Constance M. Veitch, Clifford B. Veitch, Ethel L. Veitch, Mabel Veitch, Bertha H. Veitch
Wife: Amelie Marjorie Helen Veitch

Military service:

8th Battalion DLI

Medal(s): Military Cross with bar
1915 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal
Territorial Decoration

Gender: Male

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham