Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Story of Edward James Ellery

The original grave of Edward Ellery around 1919 (AWM)

Edward enlisted in Adelaide during February of 1916. At that time he was comparatively old at 34 years of age, he had been born in Richmans Valley and described himself as a farmer. He had brown hair, brown eyes, weighed 72kg (158 pounds) and was 178cm (5 foot 10 inches) tall.
Less than a month after his enlistment, Edward was aboard the HMAT Shropshire and sailing from Adelaide.
He reached Egypt with 32nd Battalion where he most likely carried out further training until he left Alexandria aboard HMAT Tunisian in late May. In Early June he stepped off that ship onto the soil of Europe in Marseille.
For the next two months he spent further time in and around Etaples until he was finally taken on strength as part of the 11th reinforcements for 27 Battalion on 11 August 1916. During August, mostly in the first few days before Edward joined them, 27 Battalion suffered 43 killed, 62 missing and 342 wounded (see the Story of Frederick Edwards for a description of the event). However, for the next two months the battalion was not called upon to carry out any further attacks. By mid October Edward was in hospital, no doubt embarrassed by the haemorrhoids he was suffering from. He spent some time in Number 3 Large Rest Camp at Wimereux and was transferred to the 26th General Hospital in Etaples. After a fortnight of medical care in France, Edward was sent to England for further attention, finally being discharged a few days before Christmas 1916. Edward was then given 14 days leave in the UK. Finally in mid February of 1917 Edward returned to France. After a further month Edward rejoined 27 Battalion and was also promoted to Lance Corporal.
Edwards record remains silent for the next seven months until early October when they note Edward suffered a gun shot wound to his right elbow.
However, for his actions that night Edward was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. His commendation reads:
“On the night of October 5/6th 1917 this soldier was driving a limber containing rations. On arrival at IDEAL HOUSE, WESTHOEK RIDGE, his limber became stuck in the mud. While trying to get his limber out the enemy opened up with a heavy barrage, and several shells dropped amongst the wagons, one hitting this driver’s limber. One of his horses was killed and he himself was wounded. Although the barrage still continued, Driver ELLERY remained at his post and succeeded in freeing his other horse. After shelling was over, owing to the casualties there were not sufficient Drivers to take wagons back to Camp, ELLERY, despite his wound, volunteered to drive a wagon. On arrival at Transport Lines he fainted through loss of blood.”
For the next month Edward was transferred around various hospitals in Belgium and France including those at Camiers, back to Etaples again, Cayeux and Le Havre. By mid November Edward was well enough to rejoin his unit.
In February 1918, he was granted another fortnight’s leave which he spent in England.
In August 1918 Edward was promoted to Corporal in the field to replace the Corporal Durbridge who had died of wounds on the ninth. Unfortunately, Edward was not to enjoy this increase in rank for very long as he too was killed 19 days later on the 2nd September during an attack by 27 Battalion on the village of Allienes.
Edward and another soldier, Private 2112 Beenham who was killed at the same time, were buried together where they fell by the rail line between Mont St Quentin (Perrone) and Allaines. A year later they were both “brought in” and now lie in the Perrone Communal Cemetery extension.
The cemetery extension was begun by the British in March 1917, then used by the Germans in 1918 after they captured Perrone. It changed hands again when the town was captured by Australian units in September 1918. After the war it was enlarged when graves were brought in from the battlefields near Peronne and from other small cemeteries in the area. There are now 1,579 graves/memorials for Commonwealth servicemen in the cemetery.
Edward was survived by his brother William, who was also serving, and his sister, Ada Rogers.
The Meritorious Service Medal is awarded for distinguished service, or for gallantry, principally by non-commissioned officers of all of the British armed forces. To be awarded the MSM today, an individual must have "good, faithful, valuable and meritorious service, with conduct judged to be irreproachable throughout". During 1916-1919, army NCOs could be awarded the medal immediately for meritorious service in the field.

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