Private Sidney Ellis (6974976) served in 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment, Army Air Corps during the Second World War. He was the son of William Ellis and Clara Ellis of Belfast, and the husband of Elizabeth Ellis of 204 Blythe Street, Belfast. His younger brother James Ellis served in the Royal Marines for more than 25 years.
Even before the outbreak of the Second World War, friends knew Ellis as “Fighting Sid”. He joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers once he was old enough, spending 7 years serving in India. On his return, he spent a further 7 years in the reserves but civilian life was too tame for Sid. He traveled next to the Middle East, serving 2 and a half years in the Palestinian Police Force.
His return from Palestine saw Ellis become a Warden at a prison in Belfast. The declaration of the Second World War led to a call going out for volunteers and Ellis was among the first to reenlist. He rejoined the Royal Irish Fusiliers and later transferred to the Royal Armoured Corps. In 1943, keen for yet more excitement, he joined The Parachute Regiment.
Death in Arnhem
“Fighting Sid” died on 18th September 1944 aged 38 years old during Operation Market Garden. At the time, he was a Runner in Battalion Headquarters. After his death, two comrades from Belfast; Private Samuel Hillis and Private James Ussher told a Belfast Telegraph reporter of Ellis’ death at Arnhem.
Poor Sid was killed on the second day at Arnhem by a sniper’s bullet. We were engaged in street fighting at the time and were being pushed back when a bullet struck him on the chin bone and was deflected through his heart. Jimmy and I were fighting beside him at this time, and thinking it was only a wound we proceeded to give him first aid, but when we turned him over he was dead. That’s why it hasn’t been such fun coming home this time. We three were the only Belfastmen in our battalion, and we were in many a tight corner together.
Strictly speaking, he shouldn’t have been in the Paratroops at all because he was 38 and too old, but a little thing like that didn’t trouble Sid. He liked to be wherever there was trouble, and he certainly was in plenty of trouble at the last. All three of us have been in many a ‘big show’ in the last few years, but we were never in anything like Arnhem. It was like going through hell. Sid, however, was in his element and he died fighting like a lion.
Private Samuel Hillis – 1st Battalion The Parachute Regiment – 9th October 1944.
Hillis and Ussher brought home Ellis’ red beret and Airborne Division cap badge to present to his widow.
Sidney Ellis’ grave is in Section 20, Row A, Grave 12 of Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands. His headstone bears the inscription:
Far from his native land he sleeps.