Ellis had been born in Woodley and lived there until he enlisted in the army. The family home was at 62 Hyde Road. The 1901 Census records his parents as being William (then aged 39, a general labourer) and Matilda (37).
Ellis had attended St Mark's Church and Sunday School and had previously been an active member of the Boys' Brigade. He worked as a gardener for a Mr Foster of Wilmslow. His service number suggests he probably enlisted in the winter/early spring of 1915, going overseas in the early summer.
His brother, Wilfred, died on 28 July 1915 of wounds he received whilst serving with the 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. Later in the same year, the Stockport Advertiser, in its edition of 15 October, reported that another brother, John (a corporal with the 8th Cheshires), had been invalided home and was in hospital in Warrington. He had been badly wounded in the neck but would recover, return to his unit and survive the War.
Later, John would write home to tell the family that Ellis had been involved in a bombing raid on the enemy and that one soldier had been killed, others wounded and Ellis was missing. Ellis is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as having died on 24 July, but the Battalion History records the date of the raid as the 22nd. This is the extract from the History:-
"On July 22nd two officers and sixty other ranks attempted a raid on the enemy trenches. A report on the operation states
"Whilst going forward the raiding parties heard whistles blowing in various parts of the enemy's trenches, and a heavy burst of fire from rifle and machine guns at once came across No Man's Land. Irrespective of this both parties continued and made two gaps in the enemy's wire. On arrival at the wire they found that the enemy's parapet was lined with Boches and apparently more were moving up in. answer to the whistle signal.
"Bombing and rifle fire then became intense and our men retaliated with bombs. The place eventually became too warm and it was deemed advisable to withdraw."
Captain A. W. Smith was wounded, one other rank killed, one missing, and five wounded, as a result of the raid."
This account confirms that Ellis was posted as missing. His body was never recovered and identified and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Loos.