Hewitt, Ernest Basil Snell (Basil)
No. 180163, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Killed in action on Wednesday 3 November 1943 (aged 23)
Sangro River War Cemetery, Italy (Grave VIII. E. 28)
Ernest Basil Snell Hewitt was born in Wallasey, Cheshire and his birth was registered in the second quarter of 1920 in Birkenhead. He was the only son of the Revd James Marshall Hewitt and Alice Evadne Louise Hewitt (nee Snell) of Eastbourne, Sussex. Their marriage was registered in the second quarter of 1919 in Birkenhead and they had three children:
Ernest Basil Snell (born 1920)
Mary M. (born 1923)
Moyra D. (born 1926)
The Revd Hewitt was the eldest son of James Henry and Jeannie Denby Hewitt (nee Marshall) who were married on 25 June 1879 in Knockbreda Parish Church of Ireland Church, Belfast. They had five children – James Marshall (born 8 September 1880), Edith Mary (born 3 June 1882), Ernest Henry (born 5 November 1885), Holt Montgomery (born 11 June 1887), and William Arthur (born 23 January 1893).
The Revd Hewitt’s three brothers were all killed on active service in the Great War:
James Henry Hewitt died on 4 January 1928 (aged 77) and Jeannie Denby Hewitt died on 5 June 1935 (aged 80).
The Revd Hewitt’s only sister, Edith Mary Hewitt, lived in Bangor and she died on 23 November 1966.
Ernest Basil Snell Hewitt was a graduate of Oxford University and during the Second World War he served with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He was awarded the Military Cross in August 1943 for his gallantry in the Sicilian campaign. His Battalion marched overnight on 30/31 July 1943 to a position overlooking Catenanuova and from there they advanced towards Centuripe. There was very heavy fighting and ‘in the midst of this confusion a very junior officer, Lieutenant E.B.S. Hewitt, found himself in command of his Company, which, having succeeded in fighting its way against opposition into the centre of the town had established itself in the main square. At 2030 hours the Officer Commanding went off to carry out a reconnaissance and to co-ordinate a plan with a second Company now in the town. During this he was wounded, and Lieutenant Hewitt took over command of the Company. Throughout the evening and night, the enemy counter-attacked and pressed forward their attack with great determination. Although access to the houses could not be gained, Lieutenant Hewitt, regardless of personal danger and with an example of courage which was an inspiration to all, succeeded in repelling all attacks and later organised patrols further into the town until his Company Commander returned. Had it not been for this officer’s devotion to duty and power of leadership it is improbable that the hold on the town could have been maintained during the night’.
It was during the Battle of San Salvo that Lieutenant Ernest Basil Snell Hewitt (aged 23) was killed and he was described as ‘the best Subaltern in the Brigade with a long record of gallant service’. He was buried in the Sangro River War Cemetery in Italy and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS
ST. JOHN XV.13
His death was reported in the 27 November 1943 edition of the County Down Spectator and at that time his parents were living at The Vicarage, Islington, London. His effects amounted to some £458 and probate was granted to his father.
The Revd James Marshall Hewitt died on 18 August 1967.