Private George Edward Ellis was born at Ince in 1894, the second of four sons of Edward and Sarah Ann Ellis and worked as a labourer. He almost certainly enlisted voluntarily in 1915 to serve in the First World War, initially with the King's Shropshire Light Infantry with whom he underwent basic military training. In 1916 he was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and was posted to France in June 1916 with No 168 Company in the 56th (London) Division. A matter of weeks later his unit saw action in the field during the latter phases of the Battle of the Somme at Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette, Morval, the Capture of Combles, Transloy Ridge and the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. In April 1917 the unit took part in the Arras offensive and in August 1917 the Company was to take part in the series of battles we now identify with the name of Passchendaele.
On 15 August 1917 the Company was warned for a move forward from positions near Zillebeke church (Ypres sector) into front-line positions for the forthcoming Battle of Langemarck. From the unit war diary we understand it was during this move that they came under heavy shellfire and George Ellis was severely wounded. George was removed to No 55 Field Ambulance and died from shrapnel wounds to his shoulder and side. It is likely he was buried in a temporary graveyard adjacent to the Field Ambulance station and is now commemorated on a Special Memorial (No 12) at Menin Road South Military Cemetery. The exact site of his grave is unknown and he is commemorated on a gravestone stated 'believed to be buried in this cemetery.'
Within the grounds of his parish church at Ince, on the right hand side of the footpath leading to the main entrance is a small memorial, presumably erected by his family to commemorate his service and death amongst the community of which he was a member. Over the years this memorial has become severely weathered and a number of the lead letters have disappeared. With the centenary of the death of Private Ellis approaching, our Parish of Thornton-le-Moors with Ince and Elton would like to undertake a sensitive restoration of the memorial in preparation for a short service of remembrance on the first Sunday after his death. Although the funding has been agreed to undertake this work, we would like to offer the opportunity to members of the local community to contribute to this restoration project.
For online donations, please visit our JustGiving page by clicking on the link below.
Donations of cash or by cheque (payable to ECC, Thornton-le-Moors with Ince and Elton) can be left at the Vicarage, Ince Lane, Elton, CH2 4QB.
MANY thanks for your support.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to Graham Sacker, Historical Researcher for the Machine Gun Corps Database, for his assistance in helping provide information on the life of Private Ellis, his military service and the circumstances of his death in action.
More information about the 'Machine Gun Corps' is available at: http://www.machineguncorps.co.uk/