Private 203696 Edgar William Ellis

Ellis Edgar 96 427x600

Killed in Action on Sunday, 21st April 1918, age 28.
Buried in Grave IV. D. IV. at Le Grand Hasard Military Cemetery, Morbecque, Nord, France.

15th Bn., Royal Warwickshire Regiment. 13th Brigade of 5th Division.

Son of Edgar William and Sarah Ann Ellis, of Tipton. Husband of Edith Ellis, of 3, Myrtle Terrace, Lower Tower Street, Birmingham.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/68572/

Genealogical Data

Birth of Edgar WIlliam E. Ellis registered March quarter 1891 in Dudley.

1901 Census
8 New John Street West, Birmingham.
William Ellis (40, Manager of Public House, born Tipton), his wife Emily (30, born Gloucester), and their 6 children: Ethel (16, born Tipton), Lillian (14, born Tipton), Edgar (10, born Tipton), Augustorious (9, born Birmingham), Garrick (8, born Birmingham), and Dorothy (1, born Handsworth).

1911 Census
43 Paddington Road, Handsworth, Staffs.
Henry Draper (48, Green keeper at Golf Links, born Neen Savage, Shropshire), his wife of 5 years Emily (37, born Gloucester), Henry's 4 children: Ester, Hannah, Augustus Waldron, and Dougherty; also his step-son Edgar William Ellis (20, Van Sitter for London & North Western Railways, born Tipton).

Marriage of William E. Ellis and Edith Wall registered March quarter 1915 in Birmingham. >> This is almost certainly the marriage of Edgar, who must have preferred the name William.

Personal Data

Edgar Ellis is commemorated on the Birmingham Roll of Honour, he was employed as a Parcel Porter at New Street Station.

After Edgar's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £12/18/8d (12 pounds, 18 shillings and 8 pence); this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Edith, in June 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to Edith in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Edgar had enlisted in the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

The 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment (15/RW), known as the 2nd Birmingham Pals, was part of 13th Brigade of 5th Division. From December 1917 they had been stationed in Italy, providing assistance to our Italian allies after their defeat by the Austro-Hungarians on the Isonzo River in October 1917.

The success of the German Spring Offensive beginning on the 21st March 1918 led to the re-call of the 5th Division back to the Western Front. After a long train journey, they arrived near Doullens, to the west of the Somme battlefield, on 7th April. On 11th April, the 15/RW entrained northwards towards Hazebrouck. A gap had opened in the British line near Merville, and 5th Division were to resolve this.

From the eastern edge of the Nieppe Forest, the 15/RW were to advance south-west through the Forest, and to dig in on the outside edge facing Merville. Here the 15/RW were bombarded and attacked from 12th to 14th April, but their line held even though their own artillery was not in place until the 14th. This brave stand had plugged the gap in the British line, and the German thrust in this area had been blunted.

The 15/RW remained in this location, to the south-west of the Nieppe Forest, for the next 3 months and they spent much effort in improving their defences.

German artillery fire was a constant part of life, and the War Diary for the 21st April says:
“Hostile artillery fairly active throughout the day, battalion HQ receiving special attention… Battalion relieved by 1st East Surrey Regiment. Battalion withdraw to Bivouac area about J.14.Central. (Editor: this is about 4 miles to the rear of the line).
Casualties: Other Ranks Killed 2, Wounded 6.”

In fact, 3 men of the 15/RW were killed on the 21st April, one of them was Private Edward Ellis who is buried in Le Grand Hasard Military Cemetery, Morbecque.

Newspaper Cuttings

Edgar Ellis is mentioned in the Birmingham Weekly Post on the 20th and 27th July 1918 but I have not yet seen the article.