Ellis, John 'Jack' (Gunner, b.1896 - d.1918)

Accession Number AWM2019.625.2
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement Extent: 2.5 cm; Wallet/s: 1
Object type Letter
Maker Ellis, John 'Jack'
Place made Australia: Queensland, Belgium, Egypt, France, United Kingdom: England
Date made 1914-1918
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain

Copying Provisions Copying is permitted for the purposes of research and study, subject to physical condition

Collection relating to the First World War service of 2029 Gunner/Signaller John 'Jack' Ellis, 11th Australian Field Artillery Brigade, France and Belgium.

Welsh born, Ellis enlisted in Brisbane aged 21 in late September 1915. Leaving a wife and infant son behind in Queensland, Ellis arrived in Egypt in March 1916, and disembarked at Marseilles in June 1916. Gunner/Signaller Ellis suffered an extended bout of trench fever during 1917, but rejoined his unit in March 1918. A month later he was awarded a Military Medal for conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty for action between Albert and Henencourt. This action is recorded in the 11th Australian Field Artillery Brigade Unit Diary on 21 April, 1918. He was also awarded a French Croix de Guerre for bravery under fire. In a June 1918 letter to his brother, Ellis refers to the bestowing of these awards in the field and receiving congratulations from General Birdwood.

On 3rd November 1918 Ellis' unit was positioned at Sambre–Oise Canal, the scene of one of the last Allied actions of the war before the Armistice. Carrying a message along a road Ellis was struck in the head by two pieces of shrapnel; the only man from his unit killed on that day.

The collection consists of letters and postcards from John 'Jack' Ellis to his brother Evan Ellis. There are also some letters and cards to and from Ellis' wife Tryphena 'Daisy' Jane Clarke. Additionally there are some postcards from Daisy to Jack which predate his enlistment and marriage in 1915. The letters are warm and affectionate; they describe fighting; being billeted; the conscription referendum; leave in England and returning to family in Wales. He foretells his own death in January 1917 but is pragmatic about it 'Death has no dread to me. I have faced it so many times this last two years.' The last letter from Ellis is written to his brother just a week before his death. He longs for lasting peace and a return to his family.

There are two letters from Ellis' friend Bombardier George Walter Lloyd MM, written after the Armistice and expressing deep sorrow at the death of John Ellis. One is addressed to Ellis' wife; the other to his mother. John Ellis also is the only Australian soldier interred in the Highland British Cemetery at Le Cateau.