He rode to war on a penny farthing

Ernest Henry Shortland was the brother of my great grandmother Louisa Jane. Born in Weedon, Northamptonshire in 1876, for most of his life he worked as a wheelwright.

Ernest and wife Laura outside the house Ernest built at Braefield

As a young man, Ernest joined the local section of the First Battalion, the Northamptonshire Volunteers and would travel with his colleagues on Penny Farthing bicycles to Daventry weekly, to take part in combined company drill and exercises. On arriving in Daventry, the cycling soldiers were greeted with shouts of ‘here come the mounted infantry’.

At the outbreak of war, Ernest volunteered for service but because of his age was advised to join the County Police and this is how he came to Braefield. As a war time police officer, he had many experiences, including chasing German prisoners of war who had escaped Pattishall Camp. who were located hiding in a a wood and escorted back to Northampton.

Ernest died in Braefield aged 91 and at that time was the villages oldest man.

More photos