Year of Birth:  1890

Place of Birth:  Charters Towers, Queensland

Date of Enlistment:  28 October 1916

Date and Place of Embarkation:  11 November 1916, Sydney, New South Wales

Ship:  HMAT Suevic A29

Rank:  Private

Unit(s):  19th Australian Infantry Battalion

Regimental Number:  6311

Died:  9 October 1917


Born James Joseph Ernest on the 10 June 1890 to Joseph Erskine and Mary Charlotte McDonald. His sister Catherine (Kate) Margaret was born 23 October 1891. A William Erskine, with same parents, died 29 September 1890 but no record of his birth was found.

Ernest’s mother Mary Charlotte died 26 June 1892

A letter written by his father’s sister Mary, to the Base Records in Melbourne, gave the story that she took Ernest and Catherine after their mother died and looked after them for about 11 years. They attended the Sellheim School.

Catherine (Kate) died tragically in Innisfail on the 22 May 1911.

In 1912 Ernest, a labourer, and his father, a miner, were living in Ingham and by 1913 they have moved to Nymbool via Irvinebank.

Ernest’s father Joseph died 31 May 1917, he was residing at the Railway Hotel, Cairns. Because Ernest had named his father as his next of kin, his death created problems regarding his will. After several letters to the Australian Military Forces, Ernest’s aunt, Mrs Mary Murray (nee Erskine), sister of Joseph Erskine, became Ernest’s next of kin.

Ernest Erskine was living at Charters Towers when he enlisted. He gave his age as 26 years 4 months and his father, Joseph Erskine, of Railway Hotel Cairns, as his next of kin. His occupation was Surveyors Chainman. His height was 5 feet 10 1/2 inches, 146 pounds with fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair and religion was Roman Catholic.

He stated on his enlistment that he had been rejected previously as unfit, giving the reason as Cardiac.

Ernest Erskine was killed in action 9th October 1917 in Belgium. A memorial is on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Flanders, Belgium.


HMAT Suevic (A29) at sea. – photo courtesy of AWM


NAA: B2455  – letter from Aunt Mary Murray

NAA: B2455 – details of Ernest’s family


Online Resources

Queensland Birth Death and Marriage Index.

Photograph of the Suevic: P04754.001, Australian War Memorial

NAA: B2455, Erskine E, National Archives of Australia


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