Barrett, Ernest William

Barrett, Ernest William (Ernest)

Captain (Flight Commander)

29th Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Killed in action on Monday 29 May 1916 (aged 26)


Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium (Grave VI. A. 4)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Bangor and District War Memorial

Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque

Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum

Bangor Masonic Lodge No. 286

Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s)

Family Grave Headstone in Bangor Abbey Graveyard

Campbell College Belfast

Brother of Lieutenant Knox Gordon Barrett

Brother of Sub-Lieutenant Norman James Barrett


Ernest William Barrett was born on 16 February 1890 in Kinnegar, Holywood and he was a son of James Hunter Barrett JP (born in County Donegal) and Eleanor Jane Barrett (nee Hughes, born in County Down) who were married on 13 November 1884 in Saul Parish Church of Ireland Church, Co Down.  James Hunter Barrett from Holywood was a son of John Barrett, a farmer.  Eleanor Jane Hughes from Walshestown, Strangford was a daughter of Edward Hughes, a farmer.

The Barrett family lived in Church Road, Holywood before they moved to Seaview, Queen’s Parade, Bangor.  Later the Barrett family moved to Leysfield, Regent’s Park Road, Church End, Finchley, London.

An ex-Royal Irish Constabulary policeman, James Hunter Barrett was Clerk of the Petty Sessions in North Down and he and Eleanor Jane had five children:

Elizabeth Rebecca (Daisy, born 3 November 1885 in Downshire Road, Holywood)

Knox Gordon (born 30 November 1887 in Downshire Road, Holywood)

Ernest William (born 16 February 1890 in Kinnegar, Holywood)

Norman James (born 16 April 1894 in The Highlands, Ballymenoch)

St Clair Edward John (born 5 September 1898 in Riverside, Holywood)

Ernest William Barrett was educated at Campbell College Belfast, Armagh Royal School and Queen’s University Belfast.

He was prominent on both the rugby and cricket fields and he was also a member of Bangor Golf Club.

Ernest Barrett spent five years working on an Australian sheep station and then he worked as the assistant manager on a large rubber plantation in Singapore.

Shortly after the outbreak of the Great War he returned to London and gained a commission in the Royal Flying Corps.

Ernest Barrett was promoted to the rank of Captain just before he died.

Captain Ernest William Barrett was 26 when he was killed in action on 29 May 1916; he was shot in the head during an aerial duel with two German planes.

His plane crash-landed behind his own lines and his body was recovered that evening.  His funeral was conducted by Captain Preston, Church of England Chaplain.

After this bereavement Ernest’s sister Daisy had a very quiet wedding in St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast on 28 July 1916.

Daisy Barrett married Captain R.B. Purce from Ballymoney who was serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps.  Captain Purce was due to return to the Front on 4 August having come home on special leave from France for the wedding.

The best man at the wedding was Daisy’s brother Cadet St Clair Edward John Barrett (10th Reserve Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers, Newtownards).

Norman was the first of the three Barrett brothers to die during the Great War, Ernest the second and Knox the third.

Captain Ernest William Barrett was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium and he is commemorated on Bangor and District War Memorial; on the Royal British Legion (Bangor Branch) Memorial Plaque; in the Comrades of the Great War (Bangor Branch) Album in North Down Museum; in Bangor Masonic Lodge No. 286; in Bangor Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Comgall’s) and in Campbell College Belfast.