Eli was born in the Stockport area in 1886. Twenty years later, he married Florrie Bowden in a civil ceremony at Stockport. They set up home at 6 Hyde Street, Portwood. Eli worked a window cleaner until he travelled into Manchester to enlist in the army, on 31 October 1915.
On the night of 14/15th May 1916, Eli and his comrades were in front line trenches at Ploegsteert, south of the Belgian town of Ypres towards the border with France at Armentieres. Eli was shot, no doubt by a German sniper, and died shortly afterwards.
His sergeant later wrote to Florrie "He was a sentry on the night of the 14th when it happened; medical attention was at once procured and he was taken away to the dressing station. He was quite conscious and it came as a great surprise when we heard of his death the following morning at 6.30am. He was buried with all the respect a soldier could get about two miles at the rear of the firing line. He hasn't been long with the Battalion but his manner and cheerful disposition made him a general favourite in his platoon and company."
The Battalion chaplain also wrote "....But you will not forget that he has given his life for a glorious cause and has made the greatest sacrifice a man can make. Even in the midst of your sadness, it can be a comfort to you that your husband has played a man's part.....Your husband's body was laid to rest in a little soldiers' cemetery which was consecrated by the Bishop of London. Some of his comrades were present and said the burial service."
The "little cemetery" in this quiet sector of the Western Front now contains the graves of 353 soldiers, including 18 Germans.