Rank: Gunner
Number: 297018
Unit: 1/1st North Midland Heavy Battery ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 22 October 1918
Age: 24
Cemetery: Vadencourt British Cemetery, Maissemy, France

Ellis was born in Romiley and is thought to have lived all his life there until he enlisted into the army in 1915. He was the son of Alfred and Emma Rowson of 18 Chadkirk Road. Alfred was the engineer at the local Oakwood cotton mill. Ellis worked for another company in the cotton industry – the bleaching and dying firm of Joshua Schofield & Sons Ltd, 96 Stockport Road. He worshipped at St Chad’s Church and was a member of its choir.

When he joined up at Stockport, he enlisted into the 155th Heavy Battery which was the local Territorial unit of the Garrison Artillery. His original service number was 8595 which he retained until Territorial soldiers were renumbered at the beginning of 1917. His six-digit number is one associated with 155th Brigade confirming his transfer to the North Midland Brigade was not until after then.

The Batteries of the Royal Garrison Artillery fired some of the heaviest weapons in the arsenal of the British Army and were used to batter enemy defences. Unfortunately, few records remain of their day to day activities and it cannot be known under exactly what circumstances Ellis came to receive his fatal wounds. He died at a field hospital (1st Casualty Clearing Station) then at Maissemy and a Sister R Plumptree wrote to Mr & Mrs Rowson to tell them of his death. She mentions that he had received a “GSW” – this stands for Gun Shot Wound, but was also used to describe similar wounds caused by the shrapnel of an exploding shell. Garrison Artillery units were situated well behind the front line and out of rifle range and it must be shrapnel which injured Ellis.

“With regard to your son, Gunner Rowson, he was admitted to hospital the 21st of October suffering from GSW of the abdomen and who, I am grieved to tell you, passed away on the 22nd at 11.30am. He was much too weak and ill to send you any special message but all was done for him to render his last hours as comfortable as possible. With great sympathy with you in your great trouble.”

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