Rowland-Ellis, John

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John Rowland-Ellis DCM and Bar

37443, Serjeant, 55th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps
Killed in action, 22 October 1917, aged 35
Buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium

CWGC registered (Husband of Lizzie Ellis, of 76, Cornwallis St, Stoke-on-Trent)


John Rowland-Ellis (aka John Rowland Ellis, John R Ellis, John Ellis), was born at “Plas Llewelyn”, Llandudno on 13 April 1885. He received the same name as his father (b 1859), a medical student at Edinburgh University, and his grandfather (b 1823), a chemist (Ellis John R, Llewelyn Street, Llandudno) and churchwarden to the Rector of Llandudno Parish. His mother was Jane Isabella Ellis (née Dalglish). The Census of Scotland for 1891 records the family, John (1859), Jane, John (1885 aged 5) and Jessie Gwendoline (4) living at Main Street in Gifford, East Lothian; John (1859) was a general practitioner. No census record for John or his father can be found for 1901, but his mother Jane and his sister Jessie are recorded at Hanley in Staffordshire, Jane being the matron of a rescue shelter. On 12 September 1905, John, as John Ellis, married Lizzie Bailey at St. Mary’s Parish Church, Tunstall. John gave his address as 21 Havelock Street, Stoke-on-Trent, his occupation as a car conductor and his age as 22 though his actual age was 20. Lizzie Bailey also claimed to be 22 though she was actually 23. The couple’s daughter, Isabel Nora Ellis was born the following year. In 1911, the young family, now using the surname Rowland-Ellis, lived at 70 Cornwallis Street, Stoke on Trent; John (25) was described as a tramway motorman. The same census records John’s parents and sister also living at Stoke on Trent and also using the surname Rowland-Ellis; his father was now described as a medical assistant.

John Rowland-Ellis’ service record no longer exists but Soldiers Died in the Great War records that he enlisted into the Royal Army Medical Corps at Tunstall and had a regimental number of 37443, a number issued in September 1914. He disembarked in France on 27 July 1915 with the rank of serjeant. John Ellis was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal twice. The first was gazetted on 20 October 1916: “For conspicuous bravery and devotion when leading and directing stretcher-bearers, under a heavy fire, for thirty-six hours. On one occasion he volunteered to go for and administer first aid first-aid in the open, under very heavy shell fire, before the stretcher parties could advance.” The second, gazetted on 26 July 1917 read, “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, in leaving a trench at great personal risk to rescue two men who had been wounded by enemy snipers at close range. He was steadily fired upon the whole time. One of the men was hit a second time and killed before he could be brought to safety.”

John Rowland Ellis was killed in action on 22 November 1917 aged 35 whilst serving with the 55th Field Ambulance. The 55th FA was part of the 18th (Eastern) Division and took part in many of the significant actions on the Western Front. John Ellis was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium. This is significant because this cemetery was the resting place of casualties who died whilst being treated at the nearby casualty clearing stations which indicates that he may have been wounded initially.

Known memorials:

  • Llandudno Roll of Honour
  • Llandudno War Memorial
  • Memorial Chapel, Holy Trinity Church, Llandudno


John Rowland-Ellis is recorded on the Llandudno memorials as John Rowland-Ellis and on the Roll of Honour as a private in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Enquiries using these clues drew a frustrating blank. However, the Commonwealth War Grave Commission records 37443 Serjeant John Ellis, RAMC, the husband of Lizzie Ellis of 76 Cornwallis Street, Stoke-on-Trent. Soldiers Died in the Great War records his birthplace as Llandudno which with together with the details on his marriage certificate confirms that the John Rowland-Ellis remembered in Llandudno and 37443 Serjeant John Ellis DCM & Bar RAMC were one and the same person.

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