At thirty-nine years old, Ernest Coulter Whitehouse, born in Karachi British India (present day Pakistan) was an established Physician and Surgeon living in Vancouver British Columbia. It was September 13th 1915, just over a year had gone by since the Germans had ignored the British ultimatum to leave Belgium by midnight of August 3rd 1914 and war was declared. While the first division of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (C.E.F.) had already made their way to France fighting in the first battle of Ypres the past spring, Ernest was filling out his attestation papers in Shorncliffe England. Being found fit, Ernest was selected as an officer for the Canadian Army Medical Corps attaining the rank of Captain.
It wasn’t long before Ernest found himself transferred into the recently disbanded 6th Battalion. Now known as the Fort Garry Horse, the unit was largely comprised of Cavalrymen, serving as the remount brigade for the Canadian Cavalry who had been training since early April of 1915. In February 1916 Ernest (now in squadron B), and the rest of the regiment transferred to France and by July they were engaged in action at the battle of the Somme.
Ernest’s squadron was tasked with the exceptionally dangerous mission of laying bridges for an infantry advance to which they were to supplement in the attack on the hamlet of High Wood. The attack started out successfully between the 13th and 14th but was evacuated due to heavy casualties on the 15th . Despite this, The Fort Garry Horse would retire to the defensive trenches which would hold for another two weeks.