Lieut Basil Herbert Ellis

King’s Shropshire Light Infantry

Ellis, Basil Herbert. Lieut., 5th (Service) Battn. King’s Shropshire L.I. 2nd s. of Rev. Henry Maitland Ellis, Vicar of Hedge End, co. Hants, M.A., by his wife, Ida Mary, dau. of the late Capt. Herbert Reid Lempriere; b. Exbury Rectory, co, Hants,

20 May, 1895; educ. Highfield Preparatopry School, Liphook, and Shrewsbury; at which latter he won a scholarship, was subsequently head of his house. He should have gone into residence at Oxford, as a Scholar of Wadham College, in Oct. 1914, but, having been in the O.T.C. while at Shrewsbury, was given a commission in the King’s Shropshire L.I. 22 Sept 1914, and was promoted Lieut. 1st October following. He went with his regt. to the Front in May, and was killed in action at Hooge, 16 June, 1915; unm. He was buried in the garden of a Farm House, on the left side of the Ypres to Zillbeke Road. An officer wrote of him: “He was an excellent scout officer, and had done some good work since our arrival in France. Absolutely fearless and perfectly calm under fire. Greatly liked by the men of his platoon, which he had in excellent order”; and another describing his death: “It was while going out across the open to get water for several men who had been badly wounded that he was killed.”

Lieut. Ellis was a keen sportsman; while at Shrewsbury he was in the 1st XI. Cricket Team, and also had his fives colours, and was editor of the “Salopian.”

This was the 5/K.S.L.I. first action on the Western Front. The 42nd Brigade were in support of an attack on Hooge and Bellewaarde Ridge. The 5/K.S.L.I. were just south-east of Ypres near the Ypres-Roulers railway line, it advanced in support at 10 O’clock on the 16th June.

It was supposed to support the centre, but on debouching from the railway cutting at “Hell-Fire Corner” it came under fire and diverted to the right*. On reaching the high ground near Gordon House, they came under heavy fire again; most of the men entered the C.T. (possibly Castle or Union Street) which passed by near. This trench was already packed with men of other Regiments, after reaching the low ground near the Menin Road it became impossible to move.

At about 4 O’clock an order to retire was passed from mouth to mouth, it was impossible to know if it was genuine, but by degrees the various units were sorted out and made their way back to their starting-places in small groups.

*The two leading platoons did continue in the original direction under very heavy fire to a sunken road (this may be a section of the Cambridge Road near Railway Wood).

Captain Avery was also killed in this and is buried in Ypres Town Cemetery Extension. Two other officers were wounded (one of whom died next day). thirteen other ranks were killed (four are buried in Perth Cemetery, one in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, and eight are on the Menin Gate. 57 other ranks were wounded.

By kind permission of Annette Burgoyne