Ellis, Thomas

Thomas Ellis was born on the 8th of July 1910, in Ewloe, according to his birth Certificate, his mother Mary Jane Ellis was a Housekeeper (Domestic).  Thanks to Keith Oseman.

We see Thomas for the first time on the 1911 census, when we find Mary Jane Ellis living at Old Hall, Wood Lane, Hawarden, with her father Edward Ellis and her three children.   Edward Ellis was head of the household he was 78, a widower, who tells us that he had been married 52 years, 8 children had been born, 2 died – (all this was crossed off by the Enumerator but invaluable to family historians!).   Mary Jane Ellis was single and 40 years old, there are 4 Grandchildren in the household, Edward John Hollins*, 20, Single and a Steelworker Firing Boilers, Edward Ellis, 16, single and a Labourer in a Brickyard, Hilda, 6, at school and young Thomas Ellis, age 1.  All had been born in Hawarden.

*Edward John Hollins was to die in WW1, he Died of Wounds on the 26th of October 1917. (Please click on the link to read his story.)

We then see Mary Jane and her three children on the 1921 census, which was taken on the 19th of June 1921, still living at Old Hall.   Mary Jane Ellis was head of the household, aged 50 years and 9 months, she describes herself as a Widow and she is doing ‘Home Duties.’  Her children were Edward Henry Ellis, age 26 years, single and a Steelworks Labourer at John Summers & Sons Ltd., Hawarden Bridge Steelworks, Shotton, Chester.  Hilda Ellis, 16 years, and 11 months old, single and a General Domestic Servant at the County School, Hawarden.  Young Thomas Ellis was 11 years and 11 months old, and it states that his father was dead.   Edward Henry Ellis was the one who filled in the census form.

The 1939 National Register, which was taken on the 29th of September 1939, (the war was declared on the 3rd of September 1939), tells us that they were still living at Old Hall, next to Old Hall Farm, in Wood Lane, Hawarden.  Thomas Ellis was born on the 8th of July 1910; he was a Grocer’s Van Driver and single.  Mary Jane Ellis‘s birth date was given as the 4th October 1871 and Mary Jane tells us that she is a Widow, also in the household was Edward H. Ellis, whose birth date is given as the 18th of June 1895, he is single and a Loader at the Steel Works.

I have no clues to Thomas’s life or early years, nor when he enlisted, but he was to find himself in the middle of the war as a Driver for the 53 Inf. Bde. Group Coy. Royal Army Service Corps and as I had no information on this Regiment, I asked the WW2 talk Forum for help and again, they came through with information about Thomas, and for which I am grateful.   Many thanks to them.

Tim tells us – 53rd Brigade Group Company RASC were attached to 53rd Infantry Brigade and formed part of 18th Division. Arrived Singapore 13/01/42 in the “Mount Vernon.”

From National Archives WO 361-1203

Ellis T, T/225171, Driver RASC, WIA (Wounded in action) Bukit Panjang 9/02/42, DOW (Died of wounds) Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Bidadari, same day. Buried TTS Hospital 10/02/42.TD also sent the Gravestone photograph, and the information re Thomas’s reburial, again, many thanks –

From CWGC – Concentrated from Bidadari to Kranji after the war.

  1. Bukit Panjang is on Singapore Island.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Grave Concentration Report tells the story of Thomas’s reburial, please see the form below (War Office Concentration List).   This shows that Thomas was probably buried in Badadari Cemetery and then reburied on the 19th of October 1946 at Kranji Military Cemetery.   It looks as though he was the only one reburied from Badadari.

Keith Oseman, the Lead Researcher of the Hope Robinson POW Letters Collection at Erewash Museum, Ilkeston, Derbyshire contacted me on the 7th f November 2023 and sent me some very interesting documents that add a lot to Thomas’s story.   He also asked if there were any living relatives of Thomas and/or his family, who might be happy to contact him.

I am cut and pasting part of Keith’s email to me, as he says it so much better than me: –

Hi Mavis,

Thank you for getting in touch. I think I mentioned that I am researching a collection of letters (“The Hope Robinson POW Letters Collection”), a cache of 2,215 letters held at Erewash Museum, Ilkeston, Derbyshire. She was the wife of a Major in the Sherwood Foresters who was captured at the Fall of Singapore, Feb. 1942. Over the next 2.5 years, like most POW families, she received very little information about Paul’s welfare, apart from 3 postcards.

 In November 1944, 69 soldiers rescued from a torpedoed Japanese transport ship arrived back in England. She persuaded two of them to talk about life in the camps, and privately published a pamphlet describing her findings (see below).

 When she publicised the pamphlet, she was inundated with requests for a copy. She kept these requests were kept in folders and they were donated on her death to the Museum in 2019. we have archived and catalogued these letters and I am currently writing a book to uncover their context.

 One of the letters was written to Hope Robinson on 12 December 1944 (see attached). The letter is written by E H Ellis – Thomas’s Brother? It is fairly typical of many of the letters in revealing the anxiety felt within the family back home. It is notable that they still don’t know that Thomas is dead, despite him dying 2.5 years earlier.

 Also. in my research, I have unearthed a couple of new documents. Firstly his Birth Certificate, which doesn’t include a father’s name or an address. Secondly, the 1921 Census for Old Hall. Note, that it states that his father is dead.

 This letter is one that I might highlight in my book, and I was wondering whether you have any more information about the family. I have read the material that you put on the Hawarden War Memorial website, but it seems a bit complicated.

 Also, are you aware of any surviving family members?”

 I have since simplified my writing of Thomas’s story, as it was complicated, as was the research, so I hope everyone will be able to see Thomas’s story a bit clearer.  Many thanks to Keith for his input and documents, it is so interesting to see the letter that Edward Henry sent and that the lovely lady Hope Robinson’s work to collect all the information from the two rescued soldiers from the Japanese Transport Ship.  I wish Keith all the best in his quest for more information, so important that the stories of the men of both wars are recorded as best we can.

I found the Probate for Mary Jane Ellis, she died on the 28th of February 1952 and probate was granted to Edward Henry Ellis Weighmaster.   10 years after she had suffered the loss of Thomas.

If anyone can add to Thomas’s story, please get in touch.   In any case he was well loved by his family as his name was put forward to be remembered.   His family’s inscription on his grave says it all –



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