18 November 2012

The Ellis Boys - all related?

Here's something for those of you who enjoy doing family research. It's a question I was unable to answer due to time constraints, but perhaps you will be able to solve it.

Five original volunteers to the West Ham Battalion were -

(Service Number and Name)
17661 Albert Benjamin ELLIS
17265 EE ELLIS
17724 James ELLIS
17384 CW ELLIS
21462 F ELLIS

Albert Ellis was killed with another soldier when a grenade exploded accidentally. All the service numbers are low 17's, which means they were amongst the earliest men to enlist in The Hammers. 21462 F Ellis has a service number which indicates that he was a volunteer but also that he arrived in France from the Hammers depot company as a replacement, probably around January 1916.

The men were local to West Ham or to Hackney. This is interesting and opens the door to why I think the men are all related. There was a very large and successful piano manufacturer in the latter half of the 18th century called John Ellis. His main and famous showroom was in Upton Park but his factory was at the Alexandra Works, 130 Shacklewell Lane in Dalston.

I have an idea that perhaps the men were brothers and cousins. Or maybe it's pure coincidence.

Can you solve the mystery?

14 November 2012

Did He Go To France...

This unknown Corporal (although something tells me that it's Charlie Lucas, Military Medal winner at Lock5) is a member of the West Ham Battalion Police.

He can be seen parading the shackles - as used to restrain men, like L/Cpl Crisp who assaulted one of the sentries while in France.

Also on parade is a small dog, familiar enough with the Corporal to sit on his arm, so most likely it belonged to him. Not knowing the man, we cant ever hope to know the dog and whether or not he went to France and became a ratter with the West Ham Battalion. But such things weren't uncommon...

13 November 2012

Not Impossible...

I have often wondered whether this chap in the centre (click to enlarge), from an early 1915 image of the West Ham Battalion Drum & Bugle Band somewhere in the Borough, is Black or Mixed-Race. It is perfectly plausible and it could be argued that in the Docks area of London not in any way unusual or unknown.

It's difficult to tell, as the ways of black and white photography back then in the early days of the technology can cause tones and shadows which are liable to be misinterpreted. But, I don't know why, I simply have a sneaking suspicion that this man is black or mixed-race.

From the same photograph is this interesting scene. Is that a father with his son? Did dad survive? Depending on his age the son may also have been called up by 1918.

The sad thing about WW1 research is that little questions like these will always remain unanswered - unless the relatives do the initial digging...