James Fletcher Ellis

Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

General information

Hotel Manager

Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Casula, New South Wales, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 18th Bn. (New South Wales)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Anzac, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)


Buttes New British Cemetery, Polygon Wood
Plot: XXVI
Row: A
Grave: 7

Distinctions and medals 2

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death (approximate)

My story

Private James Fletcher Ellis of 18th Battalion Australian Infantry Firce (A.I.F.), 5th Australian Brigade, 2nd Australian Division fought in the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, a stage in the Battle of Passchendaele.

James Ellis was from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He was the grandson of Mr. James Fletcher, a former representatives of Newcastle in the Parliament of New South Wales. Before enlisting he had worked as a Hotel Manager at what is believed to be a hotel owned by his aunt Margaret Blanchard. Ellis was 25 at the time of enlisting in January 1916 and had either just become or was just about to become a father, outside of marriage, to a little girl named Dorothy Follington. It is possible that Ellis enlisted to avoid the responsibilties of fatherhood, as it is recorded that he no longer contacted the mother of his child, Margaret Follington, after reaching England and mentioned neither her nor his daughter in his Will, stating his aunt as next of kin.

Private Ellis had quite an interesting Service Record and his medical report states him as having a tattoo of a ‘woman’s bust’ on his arm. On 20th July 1916, his is punished for disobedience of orders and for taking leave without permission or a pass. Later Ellis is admitted to Bulford Hospital for 47 days between August and September 1916 and then again for 136 days from October 1916 until February 1917,in both instances he was being treated for a recurring infection. On 24, April 1917 he proceeds overseas to France to join 18th Battalion A.I.F. He then spends sevrel more weeks ‘sick’ in Hospital between 16th June and 4th July 1917.

On 20th September 1917 2nd Australian Division attacked at 5:40 a.m. 5th Australian brigade attacked with the 20th Battalion and 18th Battalion in support and with 17th and 26th Battalions in reserve. An excellent Allied artillery barrage gave the troops good coverage and were able to swiftly advance. The attack went well although 20th Battalion met some resistance to their left from a line of concrete artillery shelters. They managed, nonetheless, to reach the first objective line, but they then came under heavy fire from two German pillboxes which had to be dealt with immediately to minimise further casualties. The 18th Battalion then took over the attack to the second objective line, taking ANZAC House and Iron Cross redoubt relatively easily. They were then forced to advance on and take Garter point to stop German Sniping on Allied forces who were trying to consolidate the second objective line. The third and final objective line was later also reached and taken. The attack, overall, was a success.

Private James Fletcher Ellis was Killed in Action on 20th September 1917. According to several accounts in his Red Cross file he was with 18th Battalion as they were consolidating the second line near ANZAC House and was killed instantly when hit, just above the eye, by shrapnel from a shell explosion. Private Ellis was originally buried very close to ANZAC House and his remains were later identified via his Disc. His is now officially buried at Buttes New British Cemetery; Plot 26, Row A, Grave7. He is also commemorated on panel 85 of the Australian War Memorial.

Files 1

Sources 6

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 80-83.
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Further reference
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Service Record
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The Long, Long Trail
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War Diary
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