ELLIS. Stanley Gladstone
Born at Cottenham on 16 February 1898. Moved to Fulbourn between 1898 and 1900.
Parents Percy and Annie Ellis from Eversden.
His father was the baker in Fulbourn. Lived Pearce Lane, Fulbourn (where 1066 Pianos are today).
Went to Fulbourn Infants School.
Enlisted Cambridge, 178617, Royal Field Artillery.
Transferred as Private 33813 to 8th (Service) Battalion, Border Regiment part of 75th Brigade/25th Division.
Killed in action Wednesday, 10th April 1918 at the Battle of the Lys in France & Flanders.
Stanley Ellis is remembered with Honour on PLOEGSTEERT MEMORIAL, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium. Panel 6. He has no known grave.
Posthumously awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal. See Medal Roll and medal card. Appendix A.
The Ploegsteert Memorial to the missing commemorates more than 11,00 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in that sector during the First World War.
His family received £9-1s-4p of which £8 was War Gratuity. Appendix B.
Battle of the Lys (10-11 April 1918)
8th Battalion were part of 25th Division involved in the Battle of Lys covering a line nearly 4 miles in length in front of Ploegsteert Wood, to the left of the line was 19th Division on the River Douave and the line followed the Lys and ran to the NW of Armentieres to link with the 34th Division.
The German trenches were on the far side of the Lys in front of Deulemont and Wytschaete.
At 04:15 on the morning of 10th April the German barrage opened up with High Explosive and Gas, at 08:45 the Greman 4th Army attacked and crossed the river which was 20 feet wide and curved round the low ground in front of Messines and Wytschaete which was held by the 19th Division.
It is possible that Stanley Ellis was killed in the bombardment given he has no known grave.
8th Border Regt War Diary states:
Dull - slight mist - enemy attacked about 5.30 am after a heavy bombardment - A Coy practically cut off - B, C and D Coys retired to reserve line which was soon enveloped and about mid-day Battalion withdrew with other troops to a North and South line west of Le Bizet. A further withdrawal to the Road Clef de la Belgique - Oosthove was necessitated during the afternoon and late at night the right flank was swung to the line Courte Rue Oosthove - Doudou - two Companies 9th Cheshires being on our right at Courte Rue and two companies 9th Chesires on our left at Oosthove. Appendix C.
The Battle of the Lys 7th – 29th April 1918. (4th Ypres).
The Battle of Lys was part of the 1918 German Spring Offensive ordered by Luderndorff in a final attempt by the Germans to break the Allied lines around Ypres. The Battle of Lys can go by numerous titles and has been called the Fourth Battle of Ypres, the Lys Offensive and the Third Battle of Flanders.
By the spring of 1918, the Germans knew that they faced a major problem on the Western Front. Since the American declaration of war, American soldiers had arrived in Western Europe in very large numbers. The German High Command knew that these numbers would only dramatically increase given time. The Spring Offensive was an attempt to defeat the Allies before the full might of the Americans reached Western Europe.
The aim of the Battle of Lys from the German point of view was to capture Ypres and the surrounding high ground around Messines. The River Lys formed a barrier between two Allied armies.
The Germans planned to attack the British First Army south of the river before moving northwest.
The attack started on April 9th 1918 following a two-day artillery bombardment.
Another German attack on April 10th led to the capture of what was left of the village of Messines. The Germans greatly benefited by the height that the Messines Ridge gave to them.
On April 12th the Germans made a concerted attempt to capture Hazebrouk, a major Allied logistics centre. The capture of this town would have been a major blow for the Allies. However, the town held out when the Australian 1st Division halted the German advance five miles from the town centre.
The German advance was such that Field Marshal Haig asked the new General-in-Chief Allied Forces, Marshal Foch, for reinforcements. Initially Foch was unwilling to send reinforcements but on April 14th he did just this. However, between April 10th and April 14th, British troops had been in a precarious position and Haig issued his famous “backs to the wall” order:
“With our backs to the wall, and believing in the justice of our cause, each of us must fight on to the end.”
While the Germans continued to advance and took several key targets (Mount Kemmel and the Scherpernberg – both of which gave the Germans height advantage), the attack had started to stall by April 29th. Luderndorff called a halt to the attack. The gains at the Battle of Lys were the last the Germans made in World War One.
The Battle of Lys cost the Germans dearly in terms of men lost. The Germans lost 120,000 killed, wounded or missing. While the initial territorial gains in the battle may have boosted German confidence in their High Command, they could not cope with their overall losses.
British and French losses were on a similar scale. However, the steady inflow of US troops meant that the Allies could cope with this loss.