ELLIS Lawrence

Lawrence Ellis and his wife Irene

Lawrence Ewart ELLIS

Son of Walter and Eva Ellis; husband of Irene Ellis of Bradford.  Lawrence served in the 1st Battalion. Gordon Highlanders with the rank of Lance Sergeant.  He died on 22nd July 1943, aged 26. Lawrence is buried at CATANIA WAR CEMETERY, Sicily.

The Ellis family can be found in the 1939 England and Wales Register living at 3 Hillcrest, Queensbury.  Lawrence was a weaver; he and Irene were married in early 1940.

The headstone inscription for Lawrence reads:  “His cheerful ways and smiling face happy to recall. Beloved by everyone”.

The following information was provided by Mike, son of Irene. We are grateful to him for allowing us to share his families history and for providing the photograph of Lawrence and Irene.

My mum was Lawrence’s wife – Irene Ellis, nee Bairstow, later Shepherd.  She never spoke about Lawrence until not long before she died in 2007 at 88. As kids we had seen references to her as Irene Ellis and I remember a newspaper cutting in a drawer stating that Lawrence Ellis had died of multiple wounds in the North Africa campaign (we thought) but she would never discuss it with us.  Later, when she could be drawn on it she told us that Lawrence and his best friend had decided to join the Gordon Highlanders and so Lawrence and her got married and she went off to Aberdeen with him for his training. “And he was killed in 1943 and that’s it our Michael.”  She was a true Yorkshire woman of few words!  

She married our Dad, Joe Shepherd, in Sept 1945 whilst she was still in the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) and he in the Royal Signals. Starting with me in 1947 she had the three of us and a whole new life.  I guess Lawrence was always in her mind though.  A few weeks after mum’s death the attached photo of Lawrence and mum turned up in one of her handbags that had been given to a charity shop and it found its way back to us. It was tucked away in an inner pocket along with a business card for my brother’s shop. None of us (two brothers and one sister) had seen it before but we think it might have been taken in Aberdeen.

I later discovered that Lawrence’s grave is in Sicily and that is where he was killed, not as I thought, in the desert. The 1st Battalion. Gordon Highlanders fought their way up through Sicily culminating in a fierce battle at the village of Sferro from 16-23 July 1943. Having fought their way into the village they faced German bombardment from the hills as well as a tank and infantry counterattack but finally took the village on 23 July. I imagine that it was here that Lawrence fell on the 22nd – so close.