Two more of Lancaster's heroes

Shaun Corkerry takes a look at two more decorated Lancastrians who have roads named after them in the city

By Michelle Blade
Thursday, 4th June 2020, 3:45 pm
Captain Albert Ellwood.  A coloured photograph produced after his death, with the medal ribbons for the Military Cross, 1914/15 Star, British War and Allied Victory Medals, painted on. Accession Number: KO3053/01. Picture courtesy of the King's Own Royal Border Regiment Museum.
Captain Albert Ellwood. A coloured photograph produced after his death, with the medal ribbons for the Military Cross, 1914/15 Star, British War and Allied Victory Medals, painted on. Accession Number: KO3053/01. Picture courtesy of the King's Own Royal Border Regiment Museum.

Earlier this year the Lancaster Guardian published an article written by Shaun Corkerry about Lieutenant (later Colonel) Ronald MacDonald who has a road named after him in Lancaster.

It was suggested by many at the time that the paper should run a similar article on the other two men commemorated on the same estate: Private Reginald Sydney Dennison MM (Military Medal) and Captain Albert Ellwood MC (Military Cross). The roads, on Quernmore Park, are now named Ellwood Square and Dennison Close respectively.

Private Reginald Sydney Dennison MM, number 240595, 2/5th King’s Own attached Light Trench Mortar Battery

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Captain Ellwood's death notice in the paper at the time.

Reginald Sydney Dennison was born on the October 28, 1888 in Lancaster; his parents were Robert George Dennison and Christiana (Nee Miller).

In 1891 the family with Christiana as the head (Robert must have been away) lived at 12 Albion Street, Bulk. Reginald had three brothers and two sisters.

n 1901 the family lived at 30 Green Street, also on Bulk. Reginald was attending school, and his dad was working as an engine fitter at an oilcloth works (in 1914 the family are listed as living at 41 Green Street).

By 1911 Reginald lived at 95 Westham Street - he is showing as a general labourer at an oilcloth works - and in 1910 he was married to Bertha (nee Dixon), a card loom hand.

Pen and Ink Sketch 'Going in' by Captain Albert Ellwood. Accession Number: KO2401/02. Picture courtesy of the King's Own Royal Border Regiment Museum.

Happily, Reginald’s Army Service Papers have survived and they show him as having enlisted on September 6, 1914, making him one of the first to enlist in Lancaster.

He was posted to the 2/5th Kings Own, and was trained in the Aldershot Area with the rest of the 57th Division. Sydney embarked for France, landing at Le Havre with the rest of his unit on 11 February 1917.

He was attached to the 170th Trench Mortar Battery with effect from 6th February. In 1917, the light Mortar batteries were armed with 3-inch Stokes mortars.

The light Mortars were organised into batteries of four. (Mortars are designed to “lob” shells into enemy positions over relatively short ranges and look a bit like drainpipes set at an angle.)

Pen and Ink Sketch 'Coming out' by Captain Albert Ellwood. Accession Number: KO2401/03. Picture courtesy of the King's Own Royal Border Regiment Museum.

On March 24 the incident described below occurred, and during this Sydney was wounded in the thigh and wrist. He re-joined his unit on March 31.

‘Gallant Action Under Fire’ 24 March 1917.

“I wish to bring to your notice the following incident which occurred on Saturday morning last, 24 Mar 1917, when a party of one Non-Commissioned Officer and six men of the 170 Light Trench Mortar Battery came under shell fire at a point on the - - road (sic)”

Number 241307 Private Hodgson of the 2/5th KORLR States –

The final resting place of Captain A Ellwood.

“On Saturday morning (24 Mar 1917) I was proceeding with six others about 200 yards in advance of a second party along the - - road when the road at a point where the second party was on was shelled by the enemy, looking back it was seen that several of the party were wounded.

Number 242526 Corporal Jones was seen lying on the ground wounded.

Number 240595 Private Dennison, now Lance Corporal, picked up the corporal and got him on his shoulder.

Another shell came over which blew Private Dennison with the corporal across the road into a ditch.

Private Dennison - although wounded himself by the second shell - got out of the ditch and at Corporal Jones’ request then assisted in carrying down more seriously wounded to the dressing station where Private Dennison was retained by the Medical Officer.”

For this action Sydney was awarded a Military Medal (London Gazette May 26, 1917) and on April 4 was promoted to Lance Corporal. (He was later appointed to acting Corporal but reverted later to Lance Corporal)

This was the first Military Medal to be awarded to a soldier of the 57th Division.

Sydney attended 19 Corps Trench Mortar school from November 15 to December 1, 1917, and he also had home leave from Auguist 8-30, 1918.

In December 1918 Sydney contracted influenza, and this led to his transfer to the UK and his eventual discharge on his recovery in March 1919.

His address at discharge was 53 Clarence Street, Primrose.

Sydney and Bertha had the following children:

January 1915 - Florence, Sept 1916 - John, January 1920 - Frank, Nov 1922 – Raymond, and finally December 1925 - Harold.

In 1939 the family still lived at 53 Clarence Street, where Sydney was a river mixer at a Lino works.

He died in Lancaster in January 1969, and the Kings Own Museum is the custodian of his three medals.

Captain Albert Ellwood MC, 1/5th Battalion Kings Own Royal Regiment,

attached 1/4th Battalion Kings Own Royal Regiment.

Born in November 1886, Albert Ellwood was the eldest son of Mr and Mrs John Ellwood of 63 Saint Oswald Street Lancaster.

Albert was educated at Bowerham School, Christ Church (the family lived at Langley Road in 1901) and the Art school at the Storey Institute, gaining an Art Masters Certificate in 1908.

As a result he was employed in Messrs Storeys Oilcloth design department (in around 1911) and Messrs Mather and Crowther’s commercial art department in London.

Albert volunteered for service with the Lancaster Pals (later the 2/5th Battalion) in September 1914, he actually went overseas on February 14, 1915 with the 1/5th Battalion as a Private (2282/240565) (later promoted to Corporal) and was wounded in May 1915 by shrapnel.

He was sent home to hospital and on recovery spent some time with the 3/5th Kings Own and was then commissioned as a second Lieutenant in the Territorial Force in August 1916 following officer training at the 5th Cadet Battalion Trinity College, Cambridge.

In October 1916 he was attached to the 1/4th Battalion of the Kings Own, where he remained. Lt. Ellwood is shown as having attended Army courses of instruction at home and in France in Grenades, Musketry, Sniping and Scouting and the Lewis Gun - he was later to paint a portrait of a member of his Lewis gun team.

Albert married Miss Edith Eleanor Taylor of 60, Wellington Road, Lancaster at St. Pauls, Scotforth, on December 1, 1917.

Miss Taylor was the daughter of Mr Samuel Taylor of St Mary’s Gate.

He was promoted to Lieutenant in February 1918, (he was however an acting Captain from September 1917).

He received the Military Cross after his part in the battle of Cambrai.

He received a 55th Division gallant conduct card for his actions at Gillemont Farm on the 20th November 1917. His Military Cross followed (London Gazette February 4, 1918) and was for the act described in the citation below, which was published in the Edinburgh Gazette in July 1918.

Captain Ellwood was killed in action with the 1st/4th on April 14, 1918 during the fierce fighting at Givenchy.

The circumstances of Captain Ellwood’s death were not recorded, but were most probably shellfire.

Captain Ellwood was a talented artist, and he painted and sketched many of his comrades.

Some examples of his work are held at the King’s Own Museum, as are his four medals- the MC, 1915 Star and the British War and Victory medals.

The medals were applied for in 1923, by which time his widow was living in 25 Ulster Road.

Captain Ellwood is buried in Vielle Chapelle New Military Cemetery, Lacouture.

Captain Ellwood was also a member of the Pencil Club, and the John O’Gaunt Rowing Club, Lancaster.

Three of Lancaster’s most highly decorated World War I heroes were honoured by housebuilders Barratt Manchester, who named three roads at their Quernmore Park

development in memory of their lives and military bravery. The housebuilder officially unveiled the road names to coincide with Armed Forces Day, inviting members of the Lancaster Royal British Legion and Air Cadets to join them in celebrating the lives of 2nd Lieutenant Ronald Macdonald MC, Private Reginald Sydney Dennison MM and Captain Albert Ellwood MC.

The three distinguished servicemen belonged to Lancaster’s Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Regiment, which fought throughout World War I in France and Flanders, the Balkans, and the Middle East, as did other regiments.

However, its casualties in France and Flanders per battalion were higher than most of its neighbouring English County Regiments.

Barratt Manchester sales manager Alan Watt said:“It’s been fascinating finding out about the lives of these heroic men, who marched from their barracks at the former Wagon Works on

Caton Road to the Castle railway station on the first leg of their journey to France.

“We were delighted to welcome representatives from the Lancaster Royal British Legion and Air Cadets to the site, who helped us to celebrate the new road names on a very important day of the military calendar.”