Ernest Brereton Greenhous was born on 23rd March 1888 in Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, to Annie Greenhous [née Brereton] and Arthur Greenhous, J.P. whose occupation was listed as ‘ironmonger’. In addition to Ernest the marriage produced four other children.
Ernest initially spent his early teenage years as a boarder at a school in Muswell Hill in London before his time at Wellington College. On completing his education he became an Electrical Engineer living and working in Bundoran, Co Donegal, in Ireland until the outbreak of the war.
He returned to Shropshire and enlisted with the 1/1st Shropshire Yeomanry [‘B’ Squadron] as Private 1886 Ernest B Greenhous in Oswestry on 26th August 1914; John Bayley, his former college Principal vouched for his standard of education. His application form also showed prior military service with the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles but no dates or location for the period of service is shown.
During his time with the Shropshire Yeomanry Ernest spent an initial few weeks in Oswestry before they moved to Flixton in Suffolk. From there they went on to Lowestoft before returning to Flixton in early 1915. In April that year he was appointed acting Corporal before being discharged to a commission on 14th August as a Second-Lieutenant in the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. His initial period of training with his regiment was spent at Stobs in the Scottish Borders, with a few weeks during October at Catterick. In April 1916 the Battalion moved to Inverkeithing in Fife.
Later that year Ernest and his regiment sailed to Salonika where they were based at the incongruously named ‘Happy Valley Camp’. It was whilst in Salonika that he made the decision to seek an attachment to the Royal Flying Corps and in November 1916 left for Alexandria and the following month joined 23 Reserve Squadron, RFC at Aboukir. On 23rd December 1916 he was admitted to No.17 General Hospital suffering from shock due to his aircraft, a Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 single-engine two-seat biplane, stalling on take-off; four days later a telegram confirming this news was delivered to his parents in Bishop’s Castle.
He remained in hospital over Christmas and the New Year and was discharged back to his squadron on 4th January 1917. A month later Ernest left Egypt, via Port Said en route to England, via Marseilles, and by the end of March was based at Narborough with 53 Reserve Squadron, RFC. After this posting Ernest spent a brief time with 13 Squadron.
In April 1917 Ernest was with 9 Squadron on the Western Front and on 1st August received promotion to First-Lieutenant1.
This was to be short-lived however, as on Sunday 26th August 1917 First-Lieutenant Ernest Brereton Greenhous, 9 Squadron, RFC, together with his observer Lieutenant Gerald Joseph Fogarty, were killed by friendly fire when their aircraft, a Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 two-seat reconnaissance and bomber biplane, [s/n A3758] was hit by a shell over Boesinghe and blown to bits. Ernest was 29 years old and Gerald Fogarty 22 years of age. Today they lie side by side in Mendinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinge, West-Vlaanderen in Belgium.
Two days later the following telegram arrived in Bishop’s Castle.