(Service number 55423)
|Aliases||Born John Ellis CHILDS?|
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||13 March 1897||Place of Birth||New Zealand|
|Date||25 July 1917||Age||20 years 1 month|
|Address at Enlistment||C/o A. TOZER, Pleasant Point, South Canterbury|
|Previous Military Experience||2nd South Canterbury Regiment|
|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.|
|Served with||New Zealand Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Expeditionary Force|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||28th Reinforcements Canterbury Infantry Regiment, C Company|
|Date||26 July 1917|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Plymouth, England|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion|
|Service Medals||British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
26 September 1917 admitted to 3rd New Zealand General Hospital, Codford - scabies
|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|
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.
The South Canterbury quota of the 30th Reinforcement consisting of 58 men, left Timaru on 28 May 1917, but not before they had been given a very hearty send-off at the Drill Shed, and at the Strathallan Street crossing. “The men appeared in the best of spirits,” as they were put through some elementary drill movements. They were addressed by the Mayor and by the Rev. J. H. Rogers. No country in the world possessed such a free Constitution as New Zealand, and in a spirit of determination to uphold it and all that made life worth living, they were going forth to gain the mastery over the enemy, said the Mayor. On this noble mission he wished them luck and a safe return. In going away they would take with them the love, the care and affection of many who would watch anxiously for news of them, and who would ever be solicitous of their welfare, said the Rev. Rogers. Then, headed by the 2nd (S.C.) Regimental Band, they moved off to the station. The train steamed out followed by the cheers of the crowd, and the answering shouts of the departing soldiers. Among the recruits was E. Childs.
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. In September 1921, the Pleasant Point War Memorial was unveiled in an impressive ceremony. Sited in a commanding position, it is an imposing monument constructed largely of Coromandel granite, with the names – including that of E. Childs - clearly engraved beneath the inscription – “Our Glorious Dead. Their Memory Liveth for Ever.” Wreaths were laid on the steps and the “The Last Post” sounded by the bugler.
A tablet to the memory of the ex-pupils of the Pleasant Point District High School who lost their lives in the Great War, was unveiled in June 1922. After the singing of the National Anthem, the chairman of the school committee addressed the gathering. “He was pleased to say that the ex-pupils of the school had nobly come forward at their country’s call, prepared to do or die in defence of what they considered right against might. He was sorry to say that twenty of these men had been called upon to make the supreme sacrifice, and those present were gathered that day to do honour to these fallen ex-pupils, by unveiling a tablet to their memory.” A prayer was offered, the hymn “O God our Help” was sung; a scripture reading was given, after which “Kipling’s Recessional” was sung. Mr T. D. Burnett, M.P., who unveiled the tablet, thanked the committee for the great privilege of being asked to do “honour to the brave sons of the district who had come forward prepared to do their utmost in their nation’s trial.” In pulling the tape, which let loose the Union Jack that was covering the tablet, Mr Burnett read the names of the deceased heroes – E. Childs and eighteen others. A prayer by the Rev. Hinson, the hymn “Abide with Me,” and the sounding of the “Last Post” concluded the service. The tablet bears the following inscription. — “l9l4 For King and Country 1918.”
In Memory of the Ex-pupils
Of this School,
Who gave their Lives
In the Great War.
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) ; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) ; Baptism record (South Canterbury Branch church register transcription) ; New Zealand Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [12 September 2017]; Timaru Herald, 8 December 1916, 18 April 1917, 29 May 1917, 31 December 1917, 3 January 1918, 2 & 4 February 1918, 27 June 1922, Star, 1 January 1918, Otago Witness, 23 January 1918, Temuka Leader, 17 September 1921 (Papers Past) [23 October 2013; 18 November 2013; 12 September 2017; 06 February 2018; 28 August 2021; 04 October 2021]
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, Sc branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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