Ellis, James

James Ellis was born circa 1915, the son of Samuel & Annie Ellis (nee Edwards), who, I believe, married in a Civil Ceremony in Holywell in the March Quarter of 1914. (Flintshire (Mold) HOL/38/65).   The certificate would have to be purchased to confirm or deny.

We see Samuel for the first time on the 1891 census living with his family at Shop Y Mynydd, New Houses, Hope, Flintshire.   Richard Ellis, 31, is head of the household and a Coal Miner, his wife Hannah, 32 and their children; Harriet Ann, 10, Samuel, 8, Thomas, 7, Mary Elizabeth, 3 and baby Margaret, 1, made up the household, they had all been born in Hope, Flintshire.

The 1901 census see the family at Horeb, Hope, Flintshire.  I believe the Enumerator made a few errors with the children ages, but I am not sure.   Richard is again head of the household, and he is now 43 years of age and a Hewer in the Coal Mine, his wife Hannah is now 44 years old.   Their children were George 5, Margaret, 11, Hannah,7, Richard 12, Mary 17.   Thomas, 15 and Samuel 19, were both Labourers.

The 1911 census sees the family living at Shop Y Mynydd, Hope, Flintshire.   Richard tells us that he and Hannah had been married 30 years and he was now 52.   Hannah, 53, tells us that they had 11 children but sadly, one had died.  Samuel was 28, Thomas was 27 and both were single and Coal Miners (Holers).  Richard was 18, single and a Farm Labourer, Robert G. Ellis, 15, was a Shepherd.  John Ellis, 10 was at school and young Henery (sic) was 7.

The 1921 census, which was taken on the 19th of June 1921, shows Samuel & Annie Ellis living at Rose Cottage, Tir y Vron, Pontybodkin, Hawarden.    Samuel is now 39 years and 7 months old and had been born in Horeler?, Flintshire looks as though it has been crossed out.  He was a ‘Coal Getter’ at H.S. Higginbottom’s Coed Talwrn Colliery but was ‘Out of Work.’   Annie was aged 36 years and 1 month, she was doing ‘House Duties.’    James Ellis was 7 years and 6 months old, both had been born at Tir y Vron.

On the 1939 National Register which was taken on the 29th of September 1939, James and May Louisa are seen still living at Rose Cottage.    James’s date of birth is very badly covered by some sticky tape and all that can be certain is the 18th of June, whereas May L. Ellis ‘s date of birth is given as 7th of April 1915.    It gives James’s occupation as a Gardener, Agricultural and May Louisa’s as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties,” as most of the married women, who did not have a job, are described on this Register.

I have the Royal Artillery Enlistments, the transcription from Find my Past gives the date of Attestation as 1941, it states is his Regimental Number as 1818009 and HAAA/S, 9th May 1945 Died.  So he would have been in the Royal Artillery for just a year or so when he was captured.

James Ellis was one among thousands who were swept up in the Fall of Singapore and was captured on the on the 15th of February 1942 (Battle of Singapore 7th Feb – 15th Feb 1942)

There is a Casualty Card which tells us that his Army Number was 1818009, Gnr. ELLIS, James, age 28 Country of Birth – Wales (England crossed out) date of death 9th of May 1945, Place of Death – “Jap Hands”, Malaya.   Cause of Death “Avitaminosis*.”

Place of Birth – Tir-y-Fron, Mold.

Place of Domicile – Pontybodkin, Nr. Mold.

Theatre or Country where fatal wound sustained, or death occurred – Malaya


This proves that James was one of the many thousands of servicemen who were starved to death by the Japanese.

On Casualty List (8) James is Listed as “Missing” (cont.), the whole page of names were missing on the same date – 15th February 1942.  3/6 Hy. A.A. Regt.

On Casualty List (6) James is Listed as “Previously posted Missing, now reported Prisoner of War.” (Cont.).   Same date as the previous Casualty Form, Previous List No. 806

On Casualty List 1796 (29) James is Listed as “Previously reported Prisoner of War in Japanese Hands now reported Died.”   Date on this form given as 9th June 1943.  Previous List No 1136 Malaya

 Yet another different form, typed with No. 15597, ELLIS, Gnr., date of Capture, 15th February 1942 Service No. 1818009, Branch of Service, – A, date of Liberation 9th May 1943 and Camp*, TH* – deceased.

List No. J.H. 228 (Page 3) gives James’s cause of death as –“ Indigestion Inhumed,” which , although I could be very wrong, means that his cause of death was “Indigestion,” for want of a better word for the reason he died, as it could very well have been from Cholera, which was rife in the camps according to the CWGC information below, in the  May of 1943, and (Inhumed) – he was buried.

3 more pages of Names, including James, that I believe may have to do with the recordings in the camp.

Another one tells us that James travelled overland on the 15th October 1942, his initial “J.” Was crossed off and “T” written, but his Regimental number was correct.

Another Document (1 + 5) SS/330/141/238 (Cas P.W.) (30) lists the graves in the Lower Kanyu Main Cemetery with New POW No.  6215, Grave No. 31,  POW No. 5343  Regtl. No. 1818009, Rank, Gnr., Name ELLIS, J., Unit, 3 HY A.A. Regt. RA., Date of Death 9th May 1943 and Cause of Death, Dysentery. (Copies sent to :- Colonial Office, Australian Army Staff.)

Taken from CWGC:- 

History Information

The notorious Burma-Siam railway, built by Commonwealth, Dutch and American prisoners of war, was a Japanese project driven by the need for improved communications to support the large Japanese army in Burma. During its construction, approximately 13,000 prisoners of war died and were buried along the railway. An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 civilians also died in the course of the project, chiefly forced labour brought from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies or conscripted in Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar). Two labour forces, one based in Siam and the other in Burma worked from opposite ends of the line towards the centre. The Japanese aimed at completing the railway in 14 months and work began in October 1942. The line, 424 kilometres long, was completed by December 1943. The graves of those who died during the construction and maintenance of the Burma-Siam railway (except for the Americans, whose remains were repatriated) were transferred from camp burial grounds and isolated sites along the railway into three cemeteries at Chungkai and Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar.

KANCHANABURI WAR CEMETERY is only a short distance from the site of the former ‘Kanburi’, the prisoner of war base camp through which most of the prisoners passed on their way to other camps. It was created by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all graves along the southern section of railway, from Bangkok to Nieke. Some 300 men who died (most from a Cholera epidemic in May/June 1943) at Nieke camp were cremated and their ashes now lie in two graves in the cemetery. The names of these men are inscribed on panels in the shelter pavilion. There are now 5,085 Commonwealth casualties of the Second World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery.

Sadly, James was only able to live from the 15th February 1942 to 9th May 1943, as the conditions were so harsh and they were all so badly treated, so their stories must not be forgotten for the sacrifice they made for us.

James was first buried in Lower Kanyu No. Cemetery when he died but then was reburied on the 17th March 1946 in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

His family, of course remembered him with love, as they added his name to the War memorial for his name to be remembered for perpetuity.

Thanks to Pat Jackson for her help with the early family details and just a footnote, she tells me that David Ellis, James and May Louisa’s son, went to work for NASA in the 1960s in Houston Texas.


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