ELLISTON, Henry Walter

No.3/9024, Private, Henry Walter ELLISTON
Aged 34

1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action presumed on Saturday, 24th April 1915

An Old Contemptible

Harry Walter Elliston was born in Fornham St.Martin (Thingoe Q3-1881 4A:576), baptised in Ipswich, St Mary Stoke on 16th March 1882, resident Fornham St Martin (recorded as born 1882 here but birth registration is definitely 1881), son of John and Sarah Johnson {or Jobson} ELLISTON (née TAYLOR).

1891 census...Aged 9, he was at West Cottages, The Park, Great Barton with his father John ELLISTON, [54] gamekeeper born Holbrook; his mother Sarah J. [52] Born Ipswich; brothers Arthur R [16] and John R [12] both farm labourers, born Edwardstone, Suffolk, Herbert E. [7] born Fornham St.Martin

1901 census...Aged 19, bricklayers labourer, he was at The Beerhouse, Holbrook with his parents (father beer house keeper) and brother Herbert , a domestic gardener.

He married Lily Louisa BANHAM [28-3-1882] on 24th February 1901 (Thingoe Q1-1901 4A:1261).

1911 census...Aged 29, a farm labourer, he was at Redgate Cottages, Great Barton with his wife Lily [29] born Ixworth; daughters Gertrude [19-8-1908] and Alice Edith Mary [3-11-1909] both born Bury St.Edmunds. They had 3 more daughters, Mabel Dorothy [9-9-1911], Violet Ruby [21-3-1913] and Kate Winifed Beatrice [7-4-1915]. His parents (father retired) were at Buck Street, Holbrook.

His widow married Arthur STURGEON on 13-10-1917.

Every record shows his birth as 1882 but his registration is 1881. No documentation has been found linking him with Great Livermere, so this may be a parish boundary affair, or they may have moved into the next parish after the 1911 census. He is rememebered on the Great Barton memorial

Enlisted in Bury St Edmunds on 4th December 1901 in the Militia (3rd Suffolks), No 5563. He gave his age as 18 years 4 months. He was a bricklayer's labourer, born Fornham St.Martin, 5 feet 7.5 inches (171.5 cm) tall, weighing 130 lbs (59.2 kg), chest 32.5" to 35" (82.6 to 88.9 cm), blue eyes, light brown hair, Church of England. His employer was Munnings of Ipswich, next of kin, father, John, at Holbrook. He was discharged from the Militia on 3rd December 1907 having completed his 6 years.

His re-enlistment for the war must have been into the 2nd Battalion for him to have been in France by September 1914. His number, prefixed by "3" indicates he was a Special Reservist.

The war diary from 9th April to 9th May 1915 appears to have gone missing, so we must use Murphy's "History of the Suffolk Regiment":-

April 22nd was the first real use of gas by the Germans. On the night of 23rd/24th the battalion went back into reserve between Frenzenberg and Verlorenhoek, no billets, they had to bivouack under hedges.
On the morning of 24th they were put to work digging in on the ridge astride the Ypres-Zonnebeke road. An officer appeared from Division to say the 1st Suffolks and 12th Londons were to advance northward, adding the Germans had broken through and only these two battalions stood between the Germans and Ypres. Catpain Balders sought advice from Brigade and was given authority to advance and try top establish a base in the ruins of FORTUIN.
As soon as they set out the enemy barrage increased. On the way to FORTUIN, they came across a hard pressed Canadian unit and the decision was made to assist them. Being made aware that the Germans were already in St Julien. "A" and "B" Companies reinforced the Canadian left flank, whilst the rest took up a position covering FORTUIN, the 12 London being on the right.After digging all night the Suffolk who were put in the open managed to construct a fire trench over 4 feet deep with traverses.

The 24th was the Suffolk's first experience of gas. Had the Germans realised the effect of their gas attacks and pushed their Reserves forward, they very well may have taken Ypres. CWGC put the deaths in the 1st Suffolks on 24th at 50, only 6 have known graves.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Henry Elliston is commemorated on the Menin Gate, panel 21.

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details