HEAVY DUTY: Australian WWII Cruiser Mark I Sentinel tank
HEAVY DUTY: Australian WWII Cruiser Mark I Sentinel tank

History: Soldiers remained in corps for next conflicts

IT IS interesting to see how many of the men who went to war remained in the service after that war had ended, or enlisted when another conflict arose.

Many of our local soldiers who fought in the First World War also enlisted in the Second World War.

Some of these were then attached to either Garrison or Training Units while others served with the Volunteer Defence Corps, mostly part-time but some as full-time soldiers.

Those who went on active service were usually younger men, many of whom had been officers in the First World War. The same thing happened after the Second World War - some soldiers remained in the service and went to Korea or Vietnam.

One of these soldiers was Hubert Victor (Hugh) Ellis, born in Lismore on May 22, 1923. Hugh was the son of Bernard Ellis, who was born in England in 1887 and died in Byron Bay in 1973.

Bernard's family had emigrated from Middlesex shortly after he was born. Hugh's mother was Annie Livingstone Arthur who had been born in Lismore in 1899 and died at Ballina in 1957.

Her people had been at Kiama but had come originally from Antrim in Northern Ireland. Their local property at Dorroughby was called Glenview. Annie's mother's maiden name was Dorrough.

It is likely that Hugh Ellis decided to make the Army his career prior to the beginning of the Second World War as he apparently joined his local militia as a Trooper in the 15th Light Horse Regiment on October 28, 1938.

At that time he would have been only 15. Possibly he then went on to become a military cadet at Duntroon College as he was listed as a Lieutenant when he joined the A.I.F., aged 18, in 1941.

He also married Dulcie Jean Plater at Petersham in 1941, about the same time as he would have transferred to the A.I.F. For 25 years he was to remain in the Army.

During the Second World War he was attached to the Australian Armed Corps (i.e. Tank Corps). The Mobile Vehicle units such as the Tanks virtually replaced the Light Horse, and other units using horses.

The ordinary soldiers were therefore classified as troopers. Surprisingly some horses were still used by the Army in the Second World War, especially in New Guinea where they could haul equipment and goods over terrain not possible for motorised vehicles.

It is not clear where Hugh Ellis was stationed but it is likely that, as attached to a Tank Unit, he experienced War in both the Middle East and in New Guinea. He also served with the famous Z-Force at some stage.

By the time the Korean War began he had been promoted to Captain. He served three terms with the Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC), from April 9, 1953, until August 28, 1953; October 19, 1953, until October 23, 1953; and January 28, 1954 until February 3, 1954.

The RAASC was part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, Korea, Malaya, and later in Vietnam. At some stage he was also attached to the Ancillary Unit in Korea.

When the Vietnam War began he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. He was still with the Army Service Corps and appears to have visited the area several times in an advisory capacity or as a "visitor”.

He was discharged (retired) on May 22, 1967, still with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and appears to have spent the rest of his life on Bribie Island, Queensland. He died there in 2011.

Prepared by Geoff and Margaret Henderson for Richmond River Historical Society.

Contact: 02 66219993 or info@richhistory.org.au.

Museum at 165 Molesworth St, Lismore, open 10am-4pm Monday- Friday; Research room 10am-4pm Monday and Wednesday.

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