Ellis' surname is recorded as "Clarke" on the Stockport Memorial and in the 1901 Census, although military records and the local newspaper record it as "Clark".
His father was George Clark who, at the time of the Census, was aged 48 and living at 6 Edwin Street, Stockport, where he earned a living as a locksmith. His first wife, who may have been Ellis' mother, had died and George had remarried to Sarah (then aged 36). He had four sons; James (then 25), Ellis (16), William (13) and George (9). The two oldest sons also worked as locksmiths.
Shortly after the Census, Ellis joined the army as a regular soldier. When War was declared in August 1914, Ellis was on duty with his Battalion in Karachi. They were summoned back to Britain, arriving on 2 January 1915 and went to a base at Nuneaton. Ellis had risen to the rank of Company Sergeant Major but was now promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. Before going to India, Ellis had married and the couple had a daughter. Their home (after the War) is recorded as being 13 Lower Pembroke Street, Dublin.
The Battalion, now part of the Army's 29th Division, left for Egypt in mid-March. On 10 April, they moved to the Greek island of Mudros, prior to going into action at Gallipoli on the 25th.
They left the island on the evening of the 24th and, on board the ships, were given a meal before dawn. Their landing on the peninsula was made from small boats and many casualties were suffered. The men had to wade ashore. The Regimental History records "All the rifles were soaked and amid much confusion the men reached the line of wire under very heavy fire enfilading it from both ends while machine gun fire met them in front. The silver sand and the sea water jammed the action of the rifles and it was impossible to return the fire."
As the men reached the beach, they started to scale the 100 foot high cliffs and, by 7.15am, they had overcome the Turkish troops and established a defensive line protecting the area from direct fire. By now 11 officers and 358 men were out of action - dead or wounded. Six Victoria Crosses were awarded to men of the Battalion for their courage in the landings. Amongst the dead were Ellis and another local man, William Moss.