(Service number 55423)

Aliases Born John Ellis CHILDS?
First Rank Private Last Rank Private


Date 13 March 1897 Place of Birth New Zealand

Enlistment Information

Date 25 July 1917 Age 20 years 1 month
Address at Enlistment C/o A. TOZER, Pleasant Point, South Canterbury
Occupation Labourer
Previous Military Experience 2nd South Canterbury Regiment
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Albert CHILDS (father), Pleasant Point, South Canterbury
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 7 inches. Weight 130 pounds. Chest measurement 34-35¼ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes grey. Hair fair. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs and chest well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth OK. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Class A.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 28th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company
Date 26 July 1917
Transport Ulimaroa
Embarked From Wellington Destination Plymouth, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date


Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

26 September 1917 admitted to 3rd New Zealand General Hospital, Codford - scabies

Post-war Occupations


Date 13 December 1917 Age 20 years
Place of Death In the Field, Ypres, Belgium (France)
Cause Killed in action
Memorial or Cemetery Polygon Wood Cemetery, Zonnebeke, West Vlaanderen, Belgium
Memorial Reference D. 20.
New Zealand Memorials Timaru Memorial Wall; Pleasant Point War Memorial; Pleasant Point School Memorial

Biographical Notes

John Ellis Childs was born on 13 March 1897, the second son of Albert Edward Childs and Anna née Coleman, and baptised at St Albans Anglican Church, Pleasant Point on 11 May 1897. He was known as Ellis, the name of his maternal grandfather, and enlisted by this name only. His mother died in 1902, not long before little Ellis started school. He was educated at Pleasant Point School and probably spent from April 1902 until February 1904 at Waitohi School. His father Albert, who married Agnes Young in 1903, was an old resident of Pleasant Point and lived there until his death in 1925. Ellis Childs was fined 10 shillings and costs when he was caught driving a horse and trap at night without a light at Pleasant Point in December 1916.

Ellis Childs, 55423, was single, of Church of England adherence, and working as a labourer for Mr Tozer at Pleasant Point when he embarked on 28 July 1917 on the “Ulimaroa”. His had been one of 368 names drawn in the ballot of April 1917 to fill vacancies in the 30th Reinforcements, leading Ellis to enlist on 4 May, shortly after his twentieth birthday. He nominated his father, Mr Albert Childs, of Pleasant Point, as his next-of-kin. He was in good physical and mental health - Class A, and belonged to the 2nd South Canterbury Regiment. Ellis actually left with the 28th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry, having been transferred in late June, destined for Plymouth, England. Private Childs was admitted to the 3rd New Zealand General Hospital at Codford on 26 September, afflicted with scabies.

He marched into Sling on 3 October and in three weeks was on his way to France. After a week at Brigade School in November, he rejoined his battalion, to see just 15 days further service. Private Ellis Childs, 28th Reinforcements, was killed in action on 13 December 1917 “Somewhere in France”, just 20 years old and not quite five months after he had embarked. All his service was in Western Europe. Albert Childs had lost two sons to the ravages of war within the space of seven months. Like his brother Charles, Ellis left no Will. Receipt of the memorial plaque and scroll was acknowledged by his father, who was also sent his medals – British War Medal and Victory Medal. Initially buried near the Butte Crucifix Cairn by the Rev. G. T. Robson, he is buried in Polygon Wood Cemetery in Belgium, along with 57 other men who served with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. His name is inscribed on the Timaru Memorial Wall, the Pleasant Point War Memorial and the Pleasant Point School Memorial.

Ellis Childs was well known in the Pleasant Point district, where he had been reared and spent his short life, and was respected by all who knew him. Yet, there are very few mentions of this family in the local newspapers, and no headstones in the Pleasant Point cemetery to remember them. At a soldiers’ welcome home social held in the Pleasant Point Oddfellows’ Hall on 23 January 1918, sympathy was expressed for Mr Childs and his family on the loss of his two sons. And at the February 1918 meeting of the Pleasant Point District High School committee, a vote of sympathy was passed with the relatives of Mr Childs on the deaths of his sons at the front. A photo of Pvte Ellis Childs, of Rangatira Valley, killed, was printed in the Otago Witness of 23 January 1918.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [20 October 2013]; CWGC [21 October 2013]; NZ Defence Force Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5530 0024480) [30 March 2014]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [2013]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [2013]; Baptism record (South Canterbury Branch church register transcription) [2013]; New Zealand Electoral Rolls ( [12 September 2017]; Timaru Herald, 8 December 1916, 18 April 1917, 31 December 1917, 3 January 1918, 2 & 4 February 1918, Star, 1 January 1918, Otago Witness, 23 January 1918 (Papers Past) [23 October 2013; 18 November 2013; 12 September 2017]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, Sc branch NZSG

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