‘Colonel Ellis’

Gwynne 1907 

This is our maternal grandfather, Thomas Gwynne Ellis, MBE, FLAS (1887-1953).

Happily, this is not a Remembrance item, as he survived the Great War (but was apparently shell-shocked).  He was a part-time soldier (Territorial Reserve) in the Royal Wiltshire Imperial Yeomanry when this picture was taken (the reverse is inscribed ‘Gwynne 1907’), but worked as Estate Manager to Lord Methuen at Corsham Court in Wiltshire.  Our mother was born in a cottage on the estate.

He was mobilized in 1914, and served as an Instructor and in the 11th Reserve Cavalry before being commissioned in the Royal Garrison Artillery, Special Reserve, posted to fight in 187th Siege Battery in France from November 1916 to the end of the War.  He operated as an aerial photographer, going up in fragile biplanes to take pictorial records of battlefields, trenches, targets and shell holes.  This must have been an unbelievably hazardous occupation.

We (my mother and I) gave some of his photographs, and other documents such as postcards from France, Top Secret maps, and a copy of the ‘Wipers Gazette’, to the Imperial War Museum.

Until I saw this photo and the postcards I hadn’t realised that he was known (and signed himself) as Gwynne, which I am proud to say is my middle name.

He had an extremely distinguished record, being Mentioned in Dispatches and earning medals from both Britain (including the MBE) and France.  I know nothing of his Second War history, but one of his medals is for the 1939-45 War.  (I have all his medals safely locked away, plus the miniatures – but lacking the Citations, which loony Grandma apparently threw away.)

He rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and (according to our Dad) was always addressed as ‘Colonel Ellis’ even when no longer a serving soldier.

In this photograph he would have been 19 or 20.  He is evidently a cavalry officer – note the riding crop and spurs!  His jaunty pose and roguish twinkle, bright birdlike eyes and slightly soft face, strongly remind me of our Mum.

This is one of a batch of photos and documents which she let me keep along with his medals.  In later photos he looks understandably older and wiser, though still with a twinkle in his eye.

Lest we forget…

Explore posts in the same categories: history

Tags: , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

One Comment on “‘Colonel Ellis’”

  1. Clover Says:

    This is fascinating. It’s hard to believe he’s only 19 or 20 in this photo. I’m looking foward to seeing more of your historic photos.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: