Ernest Leslie FORD DCM

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FORD, Ernest Leslie

Service Number: 6309
Enlisted: 19 February 1916, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: 24th Infantry Battalion
Born: Deans Marsh, Victoria, February 1894
Home Town: Winchelsea, Surf Coast, Victoria
Schooling: Bambra State School
Occupation: Farm labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Montbrehain, France, 5 October 1918
Cemetery: Calvaire Cemetery, Montbrehain
Row A, Grave No. 18
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

19 Feb 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 6309, Melbourne, Victoria
23 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 6309, 24th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
23 Nov 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 6309, 24th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Hororata, Melbourne
4 Oct 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 6309, 24th Infantry Battalion, Broodseinde Ridge
1 Apr 1918: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 6309, 24th Infantry Battalion, Dernancourt/Ancre, Shell wound (head)
22 Aug 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 24th Infantry Battalion
31 Aug 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, SN 6309, 24th Infantry Battalion, Mont St Quentin / Peronne
1 Sep 1918: Honoured Distinguished Conduct Medal, Mont St Quentin / Peronne, For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the attack on Mont St. Quentin on 1 September 1918.
9 Sep 1918: Promoted AIF WW1, Corporal, 24th Infantry Battalion
5 Oct 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Corporal, SN 6309, 24th Infantry Battalion, Breaching the Hindenburg Line - Cambrai / St Quentin Canal

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

Written by Michael Ganey:

Ernest Leslie Ford was a 22-year old farm labourer from Deans Marsh in Victoria when joined the AIF on the 19th of February 1916. It was some time before he embarked on the HMAT A20 Hororata on the 23rd of November 1916. He trained for a short time with the 6th Training Battalion and was taken on strength with the 24th Battalion on the 13th May 1917. He served with the Battalion for nearly a year before he was wounded by a shell fragment to the head on the 1st April 1918. This kept him from the front until the 24th of April. Upon his return be was promoted to Lance Corporal and then was promoted to Corporal after the battle of Mount St. Quentin. 

On the 1st of September 1918, he took part in the famous assault on Mount Saint Quentin. He distinguished himself early in this battle and was recommended for the Distinguished Service Medal. This was made on the19th of September. It read: - 

“In the attack on Mt. St. Quentin near PERONNE on 1st Sept., 1918, this N.C.O. showed remarkable ability in the handling of his Lewis gun team. During the advance he repeatedly provided covering fire, selecting his gun positions with an absolute disregard of personal danger. Despite point blank fire from several machine guns, he kept his gun in action, silencing two enemy guns and killing their crews. At one stage he captured, single-handed, twenty-five of the enemy. Those prisoners showed a strong disinclination to leave their cover owing to the severity of the enemy gunfire, but a burst from FORD’S gun, which he held at the hip, soon over-came their scruples. 
His behaviour throughout the operation was magnificent – an example to all around him of grit and devotion to duty.” 

 This was not gazetted until the 16th of January 1919. He never received this medal, as he was killed on the 5th of October at Montbrehain. 

Lieutenant Eric Baldock wrote home to Ernest’s parents and described to them how he fell. 

At Montbrehain he single-handed rushed a post of 6 Huns and a machine gun – killed them all with his Lewis Gun and then jumped into the post and started firing at one of the guns that were playing on him. Unfortunately the Hun got in first and poor little Ford went out. Please convey the deepest sympathy of all the lads and myself – We loved him. 

Ernest’s younger brother, Edward Lyall Ford, was also part of this assault as he was serving with the 2nd Machine Gun Company at the time. It is not known if he witnessed Ernest’s death. Edward had been recommended for a Military Medal the day before for his actions at Beaurevoir. 

Ernest’s death was reported in the Argus on the 31st October 1918. 
FORD. – Officially reported killed in action on October 5th, 1918, after 1 year and nine months service, Corporal Ernest Leslie (Les), fifth son of Samuel and A. Ford. 
He died a hero for King and country. 
Not now, but in the coming years, 
It may be in a better land, 
We’ll know the meaning of our tears, 
And then, oh! Then, we’ll understand. 

In 1920, Ernest’s parent’s received a £20 gratuity for Ernest winning the Distinguished Service Medal. 
Corporal Ernest Ford is buried in the Calvaire Cemetery in Montbrehain in plot A. 18. His mother chose the epitaph for his headstone. 
Greater Love Hath No Man 
He Laid Down 
His Life for His Friends.

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