The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2400) Private Raymond Stanley Ellis, 55th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2017.1.340
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 06 December 2017
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (2400) Private Raymond Stanley Ellis, 55th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

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Speech transcript

2400 Private Raymond Stanley Ellis, 55th Battalion, AIF
DOW 12 June 1918

Story delivered 6 December 2017

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Raymond Stanley Ellis.

Raymond Ellis was born in Eden, New South Wales, in 1891, one of six sons and two daughters born to Joseph and Mary Anne Ellis. When he was a boy, his family moved to Candelo, where he grew up and attended the local state school. Raymond went on to become a wheelwright and coachbuilder. Fondly known as “Ray”, he was a prominent figure in the Candelo district. While he was an active participant in athletics competitions and the local tennis club, he was best known as a footballer. It was reported that “no better player or cleaner sport ever donned the jersey in this district”. He also spent some time as a member of a juvenile temperance society, and continued to live by those principles.

In 1913 Raymond Ellis’s father died at the age of 79. His brothers were living interstate at the time, so Raymond became the primary source of support for his widowed mother. In 1914 his younger brother, Clarrie, who was working on the mines in Victoria, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Raymond also desperately wanted to go to war, but stayed at home to look after his mother. But by 1916 he felt that “for her sake he must obey his country’s call”. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, and entered training camp in Goulburn in April 1916. A number of clubs and associations held farewell functions for him. At an event at the tennis club, the chairman said that Ellis “was one of the most upright and respectable young men in the community… [and wished him] every success and a speedy return”.

Private Ellis left Australia on 30 September 1916 with reinforcements to the 55th Battalion. He was first sent to England, where he continued training for a month before being sent to fight on the Western Front. In early April 1917 he was wounded in the shoulder while fighting near the French village of Bullecourt.

He wrote to his mother to say,
We had been following Fritz for three weeks through a lot of villages he had been leaving, till at last we struck him about 8 or 10 miles behind his original line … the bullets were falling as thick as hail and putting dozens out of action. I was wounded about 200 yards from the village. I lay on the ground and watched them until our boys (or what was left of them) reached the village, then I made my way back with a few more wounded.

He added, “it is nothing serious. The bullet went through the muscle of the left shoulder and the joint is stiff. I think the bullet stopped just near the shoulder blade, but the doctors cannot find it with the x-rays.”
Raymond Ellis was sent to hospital in Brighton, England. In his letter he mentioned that he had not yet seen his brother Clarrie, who was serving in the 8th Battalion. Less than two weeks later Clarrie was wounded in France, dying in hospital on 22 April 1917.

Raymond Ellis did not return to his battalion until September 1917. The following year the 55th Battalion played an important role in stopping the German advance towards Amiens. Ellis, clearly proud of his battalion’s achievements, wrote somewhat melodramatically:
Wherever the Australians met [the enemy] they stopped him. The French papers call us the saviours of France. The reason why we could not be relieved was that the French did not have enough to spare and they would not trust the Amiens front to any other troops.

In May 1918 the 55th Battalion was in the front line near Villers-Bretonneux. Ellis wrote, “we had been under shell fire for 120 days, and could see no chance of getting relieved”. Sometime around 18 May, he was caught in the fire, and was wounded in the back. He was evacuated to hospital in London, writing to his mother that he had received, “two small wounds in the back, not at all painful. I am paralysed from the waist down, but don’t know how long it will last. As far as I can hear I think they will send me back to Sydney before they start to cure me. At present, they are just letting the wounds heal.”

Private Ellis never received the cure he hoped for, and died on 12 June 1918. The sister in charge of his ward wrote to Raymond’s mother to say “of course we knew from the first that his case was hopeless, but I can assure you that everything possible was done for his comfort and happiness. He was very bright up to two or three days before he died.” She went on to say, “it seems very hard on you poor mothers who are so far away.”

Raymond Ellis was buried in the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England. In Australia, a friend wrote, “the friendship of a man of such good nature, manly bearing, and loveable disposition is among the best privileges of life. His fine qualities shine with their true brightness out of the shadows of death, and his memory will be cherished by all who knew him for what he was.”

Raymond Ellis was 27 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Raymond Stanley Ellis, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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