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William Henry Ellis


Serial No:
Serial No. 3562

18th Battalion


William Henry Ellis - Information

William, known as Bill, was born to Joseph and Ada Ellis in Camden in 1897. His parents then relocated to 8 Oxford St in Balmain, where Bill and his siblings attended school. When he was older, he began working as a farmer, unaware that his life was about to change. In July 1915, Bill watched his younger brother, Reginald, enlist for war service, even though he was only 17. Bill followed, volunteering for service on the 3rd of November 1915 in Holsworthy. Bill, like his brother, claimed he was 21. He was actually just 18. This indicates that they were enlisting without their parents’ permission. During training, Bill was assigned to the 18th Battalion as a Private. He then boarded the HMAT Aeneas in Sydney on the 20th of December 1915.

Bill disembarked in England and was marched out for further training. By June, Reginald had also been stationed to England. They reunited and got up to some trouble. Bill, like his brother, was charged with going absent without leave in Rollestone for 6 days in August, whilst carrying a falsified pass. He was sentenced to 28 days detention. However, the sentence was remitted, and he was transported to France. He was marched into Etaples in mid September, and joined his unit a week later. At the time, the 18th was settling in for the winter in the Somme Sector. Heavy rainfall and bitter cold turned the lines into a muddy quagmire. Consequently, Bill reported to hospital with a mild case of trench foot from the 12th-20th of November. He returned to his unit and in the new year, was joined by his brother Reginald in March. On the 3rd of May, Bill and Reginald along with the rest of the 18th Battalion fought together during the Second Battle of Bullecourt, an assault on the Hindenburg Line. Sadly, during these operations Reginald was declared missing in action. After the attack, Bill’s health declined, reporting to hospital with trench fever. Unfortunately, while there, he was questioned about what happened to his brother. He believed that he was killed, and the following year, they closed the inquiry stating that Reginald was killed in action on the 3rd of May 1917.

Bill’s parents back in Australia received the terrible news. In mid June Bill had recovered, and returned to his unit, without his brother. Throughout 1918, Bill and his Battalion fought the Germans in a series of bitter battles. The German Spring Offensive aroused a plethora of counter attacks with chunks of the line exchanging hands. Bill was then wounded in action, during the Battle of Amiens on the 8th of August 1918. Fragments from an artillery shell penetrated his neck. It was not a severe wound, and he returned to his unit a week later, following treatment at Camiers and 42nd Stationary Hospitals. He met his unit on the 16th, and was sadly killed on the 31st of August at Mont St Quentin, caught in a shell explosion. He was buried in the Peronne Communal Cemetery. His parents were informed that they had now lost another son to the war.