On the 28th July 1913, aged nineteen, Ernest Rollings joined the Glamorgan Constabulary. However, only a year later he followed many of his peers to fight in the First World War.
Upon the announcement that Britain was at war, Rollings resigned from the police on 30th October 1914 to join the 2nd Dragoon Guards. After months of extensive training, he was deployed for active service in France as a member of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in July 1915.
After being wounded, Rollings was evacuated from the frontline back to England in November 1915. Whilst there, he became a Second Lieutenant of the Machine Gun Corps – later to become the Tank Corps.
It was whilst serving with the Tank Corps in Ypres that Rollings received his first Military Cross. Here, he was commended for his “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty” on the 21st and 22nd August 1917.
Rollings returned to England on 19th January 1918, to join a new armoured car battalion. Hastily trained, the battalion would play a crucial role in the Battle of Amiens.
On 8th August 1918, Rollings took charge of two armoured cars on offensive operations, tasked with entering Framerville in France, ten miles behind enemy lines. By noon, he and his men had fought their way to the village, and retrieved vital documentation located in the enemy headquarters. For his bravery and conduct over these days, Rolling was later rewarded with a second Military Cross. Crucially, the documents he recovered were later said to have helped to hasten the end of the War.
Following the war, Rollings re-joined the Glamorgan Constabulary. In November 1922 he transferred the Neath Borough Police and later retired as the Borough’s Acting Chief Constable in 1943.
A temporary exhibition telling the story of Ernest Rollings was opened at the Firing Line Museum in Cardiff in November 2017. The exhibition displayed objects and ephemera which were collected by Rollings throughout his lifetime. By the time of its closure in 2018 the exhibition was seen by over 100,000 visitors.
In 2018, a booklet was produced to tell the full and fascinating story of Ernest Rollings, the man who hastened the end of the war.
The booklet features original photographs and sources, and gives an account of his life and services as a police officer and a soldier.
Discover his amazing story by clicking the link below.