Ernest was the oldest son of George and Catherine Smith of 2 Dolphin Terrace, Ambler Thorn, he had an older sister, Annie, and two brothers Edwin and Willie. Ernest worked at Parkinsons and Spencer brickworks, Holmfield.
In January 1916 Ernest (service number 1355) and his brother Edwin (1354) along with several friends joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry. Ernest went to France in September 1916 and was killed in action on 24th May 1917 whilst serving with the 2nd Royal Marines Battalion, Royal Naval Division, he was aged 24. Ernest is buried at POINT-DU-JOUR MILITARY CEMETERY, ATHIES (I. F. 2).
At the time of his death his brother Edwin was in hospital in England having been wounded a few weeks earlier, his other brother Willie had also enlisted and he was ill with fever in a hospital in France.
Also enlisting alongside Ernest and Edwin were, Sidney Sheard (1356) who in 1911 lived at 7 Cart Square, Ladysmith, Ambler Thorn and Granville Haggis (1357) of 1 Elder Bank Roper Lane, Ambler Thorn.