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George Ellis

George Ellis was born about 1881 in West Heslerton, the younger son of William and Elizabeth (nee Mercer) Ellis who were married in the Malton area in the last quarter of 1876.

In 1881 the Ellises were living in West Heslerton where George had been born.

1881 Census – resident at Sand Lane, West Heslerton
ELLIS, William Jnr, Head, Married, M, 23, Bricklayer, Garton  Yorkshire.  
ELLIS, Elizabeth, Wife, Married, F, 26,  Wife, Old Malton  Yorkshire.
ELLIS, Annie Elizabeth, Daughter, Single, F, 3, West Heslerton  Yorkshire.
ELLIS, Samuel, Son, Single, M, 1, Old Malton Yorkshire.
ELLIS, George, Son, Single, M, 3 months, West Heslerton  Yorkshire.

 By 1891 they had moved to Westgate in Old Malton, quite close to Elizabeths’ parents, William and Ada who also lived on Westgate, probably at 27.

1891 Census – resident in Westgate, Old Malton

ELLIS, William, Head, Widower, M, 33, Foreman Bricklayer, Garton  Yorkshire Driffield

ELLIS, Ann E, Daughter, F, 13,  Scholar, West Heslerton Yorkshire

ELLIS, Samuel, Son, M, 11, Scholar, Old Malton  Yorkshire

ELLIS, George, Son, M, 10,, Scholar, West Heslerton  Yorkshire, ,

ELLIS, Ada, Daughter, F, 7, Scholar, Old Malton Yorkshire

A few years after the death of his wife, William Ellis moved back to East Yorkshire and remarried.  

By 1905 George appears to have joined up in Malton, in the 3rd Reserve Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. In the second quarter of 1905 he married Annie Hemstock in Richmond and by 1911 they had three children, George Arthur born in 1906, Johgn Edward born in 1909 and Wilfred Gordon born in 1911.  In 1911 George was in the 3rd Reserve Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment and his family were living in the Barracks at Richmond. They had two more children Stanley W. born in 1912 and Dorothy born in 1913.

1911 Census- Resident in Richmond Yorkshire (North Riding)

George  Ellis, Private, Married, Male, 29, 3rd Res. Battn, Yorkshire Regiment, Yorkshire Malton

Annie Ellis, 28, abt 1883, Wife, Female, Sheffield,Yorkshire , Married 6 years , 4 children, 3 living

George Arthur Ellis, 5, Son, Male, Richmond, Yorkshire

John Edward Ellis, 2, Son, Male, Richmond, Yorkshire

Wilfred Gordon Ellis, 4/12, Son, Male, Richmond, Yorkshire

The 3rd Battalion was a Reserve Battalion and remained in England with a depot at Richmond and the main battalion stationed at West Hartlepool throughout the war providing drafts to other battalions and George was sent to the 13th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, on or about 8th October 1915.  

The 13th was a bantam unit – composed of men who were undersized but otherwise fit and was initially sent to Aldershot until embarking for Le Havre 6 June 1916. It formed part of the 40th Division and served between June and late October 1916 on the front near Loos. The 40th Division remained on the Western Front throughout the rest of the war and took part in the Battle of the Ancre in 1916, The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (March1917), The capture of Fifteen Ravine, Villers Plouich,  Beaucamp and La Vacquerie (April and early May) and the Cambrai Operations, in which the Division participated in the capture of Bourlon Wood (November). Sir Douglas Haig described the object of the Cambrai operations as the gaining of a 'local success by a sudden attack at a point where the enemy did not expect it' and to some extent they succeeded. The proposed method of assault was new, with no preliminary artillery bombardment. Instead, tanks would be used to break through the German wire, with the infantry following under the cover of smoke barrages.

The attack began early in the morning of 20 November 1917 and initial advances were remarkable. However, by 22 November, a halt was called for rest and reorganisation, allowing the Germans to reinforce. From 23 to 28 November, the fighting was concentrated almost entirely around Bourlon Wood and by 29 November, it was clear that the Germans were ready for a major counter attack. During the fierce fighting of the next five days, much of the ground gained in the initial days of the attack was lost.
For the Allies, the results of the battle were ultimately disappointing but valuable lessons were learnt about new strategies and tactical approaches to fighting. The Germans had also discovered that their fixed lines of defence, no matter how well prepared, were vulnerable.

On 22 November, the GOC 40th Division at Beaumetz-les-Cambrai received orders to relieve the 62nd Division the next day. The 40th was a division of Bantams, men under regulation height. By now the roads were breaking up under the strain of thousands of men, wagons and lorries. It took 40th Divisional HQ 15 hours to travel the 9 miles to Havrincourt. A relief and assault plan was quickly drawn up: 121 Brigade to capture Bourlon, 119 Brigade to go for the wood, both jumping off from the sunken lane. On their right, the 51st would move forward to Fontaine. On the left, the 36th would go in again at Moeuvres. 92 tanks would support these units. They attacked through ground mist on the morning of the 23rd. Some of the units of the 40th had to cross 1000 yards down the long slope from Anneux, across the sunken lane and up the final rise into the wood, all the while under shell fire. There was close and vicious fighting in the wood, but after 3 hours the Welsh units of 119 Brigade were through and occupying the northern and eastern ridges at the edge of the undergrowth. 121 Brigade was cut down by heavy machine gun fire, and few men got as far as the village. 7 tanks did but were unsupported and the survivors withdrew.

It was in this action that George Ellis was killed. He is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial at Louveral which commemorates more than 7,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South Africa who died in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and whose graves are not known. The Cambrai Memorial was designed by Harold Chalton Bradshaw with sculpture by Charles S. Jagger. It was unveiled by Lieut-General Sir Louis Vaughan on 4 August 1930.