Gerald Burnett visited the museum to relate the story of his grandfather Ernest Wyatt Burnett.
My Grandfather, Ernest Wyatt Burnett was born in Chudleigh, Devonshire, in 1886. After minimal schooling and several agricultural jobs, Ernest moved to London and became a chauffeur with various employers including Thomas Tilling. He spent the pre-war years driving around Great Britain with American tourists and contemporary industrialists such as Tommy Lipton of tea fame.
Ernest enlisted with the Royal Army Service Corps, Mechanical Transport Branch, in April 1915 and became a Staff Car driver.
In 1915, the Government appointed five official Western Front War Correspondents, Philip Gibbs, Percival Phillips, H. Perry Robinson, W. Beach Thomas and Herbert Russell. Ernest was assigned to be their driver, a position he held until the end of the war.
Ernest was transferred to the Reserve in February 1919. Alongside his ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ decorations he was awarded a Silver Medal for Merit by Nicholas I, King of Montenegro.
During WW2, Ernest served with the Home Guard at Balcombe Place, his Sussex home, where he was chauffeur to Lady Gertrude Denman who was President of the Women’s Institute and Honorary Director of The Women’s Land Army.
My Grandfather was one of the lucky ones. He served his country, survived two World Wars, and lived a full and interesting life.
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