The youngest of five children, Ernest James Rand was born in July 1895, one of four brothers three of whom served in World War 1. The family lived in Queens Road, Wivenhoe and he attended Wivenhoe Council School. His father William George Rand was a master mariner, and his mother Adelaide (nee Brown) was from Rowhedge.
He was the younger brother of Oliver George Rand.
Ernest’s mother Adelaide Rand died in 1909, his sister married and went to live in Colchester, his brothers Edwin and William had married in 1911 and 1912, and his brother, Oliver emigrated to Australia to farm pineapples in Queensland. At the time of the 1911 census, Ernest was living alone in Park Road, Wivenhoe, his siblings having left home and his father away at sea. He was then 15 and working as an apprentice fitter in the shipyard. In August 1914 Ernest went to join his brother farming in Australia. He sailed from London on the P. & O. Branch Liner Beltana, for Sydney, on the 13th and arrived on the 3rd October.
On 16th March 1916, at Brisbane, Ernest Rand enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. After initial training at Enoggera Barracks, near Brisbane, he sailed on H.M. Australian Transport A50 Itonus, for Plymouth, as part of the 19th Reinforcement of the 15th Battalion. After acclimatisation and practical training in the latest trench warfare methods in England, he was sent to France, sailing from Folkestone, to Etaples on 21st December on the Princess Clementine.
On the 1st of February he suffered a gunshot wound to his scalp. He was sent back to England on 7th February aboard the Hospital Ship Lanfranc, to the 2nd Birmingham War Hospital. He was then transferred to 3rd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Dartford, Kent on 12th March 1917 and discharged to Perham Down on extended leave on 16th March 1917. He rejoined his unit on 12th May 1917.
On 23rd February 1918, Ernest again went on leave to England, rejoining his unit in France on 9th March 1918 and was promoted on 19th March 1918 to Lance Corporal. He was killed 3 months later on 22nd June 1918, aged 22, at Corbie in the battle of Messines.
According to Dick Barton’s book “Wivenhoe: Its attractions, pleasures and eccentric natives” this is how his commander broke the news to the Rand family: ”…your boy was my number one machine gunner and in charge of a responsible post. He is very sadly missed by all who knew him. His genial manner and clean living appealed to us all. Myself I feel I have lost one of my most valued boys.”
He is buried in Plot 2, Row F, Grave No. 24 at Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension in France, and commemorated on his parents’ grave in Wivenhoe, on panel 77 of the Roll of Honour, Australian War Memorial, at Canberra, and on the Roll of Honour at Noosa Shire Council Chambers in Tewantin, Queensland. He was named on the Wivenhoe War Memorial, and posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
With many thanks to Peter Waller, the grandson of Adeline, Ernest’s only sister, for the photograph and some of the family information.