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.

In September 1917 the War Office in London received a letter from a Miss Walsh, who lived in Co Donegal, who had read an article in her local newspaper about the death of Lieutenant Greenhous and who wished to be put in touch with his next of kin: they duly obliged.

In 2002 a book was published ‘The making of Billy Bishop’ - The First World War Exploits of Billy Bishop, VC’ by Brereton Greenhous2 who was the son of Sydney Charles Greenhous, Ernest’s younger brother. It contained a dedication to his nephew.

In Memory Of


1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers
Number 9 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Killed in action
in the air over Flanders
26 August 1917

In 1912 Ernest’s elder brother, Arthur Vincent Greenhous, founded one of the first motor car dealerships specialising in Vauxhall cars; today the Greenhous Group covers Shropshire and the West Midlands.

The Royal Flying Corps, along with the Royal Naval Air Service, merged together to form the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918.

1. His promotion to 1/Lt was published posthumously on 29th August 1917 and so reference to the rank of 2/Lt at this stage was technically incorrect. His gravestone however reflects his true rank.

2. Brereton Greenhous was born 12th June 1929 in Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, and died in Arnprior, Ontario on 31st March 2005 of liver cancer. He worked for twenty-five years in Canada’s Department of National Defence Directorate of History.

See also the Imperial War Museum permanent digital memorial to the ‘Lives of the First World War’ for EB Greenhous.