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8. The Fallen

Fred Ellis was born in 1899 in Dunnington, as the third child of William Henry Ellis and his wife Elizabeth (Taylor) who had been married in Dunnington on 12 Nov 1893.  By the end of 1905, Fred had a brother and two sisters – Thomas, Elsie, and Doris.  

The family was still in Church Street, Dunnington in 1901, and at the census of 1911.  

Fred enlisted at York during the First World War, but his personal service record seems to be one of the 60% lost through enemy bombing during WW2.  He may have served initially in the West Riding Regiment before becoming 47380 Private F. Ellis in the 13th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry.  

He served with the 13th Battalion in the British Expeditionary Force in France.  From November 1917 this DLI battalion was engaged in Italy, but returned to France in September 1918 and was part of the 74th Brigade at St Riquier during the large scale final advance against retreating German forces.  

On 17th October, the Fourth Army had attacked German lines along a 10-mile front south of Le Cateau but met determined enemy resistance from reinforced positions.  Over the next two days, the main attack force, assisted by the arrival of French troops, overcame the resistance and forced the enemy back towards the Sambre-Oise Canal.  

After the crossing of the River Selle and the clearing of Bazuel, the Fourth Army paused to allow heavy artillery to catch up.  

On 23rd October a difficult advance began through the Forest of Mormal against German machine-gun nests and masses of wire.  74th Brigade passed through during that night, capturing Fontaine-aux-Bois next morning.  At some point in this stage, Private Ellis was killed in action, aged 19.  

Fred’s body lies in the Cross Roads Cemetery at Fontaine-aux-Bois, in the Nord district of France.  He is named on the War Memorials at Dunnington, in St Nicholas churchyard and in the church, also on the Roll of Honour in the village Reading Room.  

Father Val Hollands (faithirV@googlemail.com / 01904 489 283)