Pte Edwin Ernest Best (1890 – 1920)

Edwin Ernest Best was born at 4 Hortus Place in Sevenoaks on 3 December 1890, the second of six children of Herbert Hards Best, a house painter, and his wife, Emma Savill. In 1901, the family lived at 53 Cobden Road but, by 1903, had settled near Borough Green on Chapel Street in Ightham. Edwin finished up his schooling at Platt School before finding work as a nursery hand, possibly at Platt Nurseries.

By 1911, Edwin had moved out of his parents’ house and was boarding in Platt (Crouch Road) in the home of Arthur and Florence Terry, who also worked at the nursery. On 28 August 1915, in Platt, he married Beatrice Jane Buss, a local girl working in domestic service.

On 24 February 1916, Edwin enlisted with the 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), and although his service papers have not survived, it seems likely that he was sent to France towards the end of 1916 or at the start of 1917 and assigned to the 7th Battalion – joining them with a draft of 315 ranks at Hautvillers. On 3 May, Edwin, who was in ‘C’ Company, attacked the village of Cherisy on the opening day of the Third Battle of the Scarpe. He was in the second wave, which advanced in support of ‘A’ & ‘B’ Companies under cover of darkness and reached the Sensée River. By late morning, a general retirement was ordered, and amongst the confusion, Edwin found himself taken prisoner and, over the next eighteen months, was imprisoned in various POW Camps such as Limburg, Dülmen, Friedrichsfeldsent and eventually Münster III in November 1917.

Edwin would likely have been liberated after the armistice, and he was discharged from the Army with sickness on 13 November 1919. He had been suffering from cancer and died at his home on Windmill Hill in Wrotham Heath less than a year later, on 6 June 1920 and was buried in Platt Churchyard four days later.