SECOND LIEUTENANT HORACE NICKSON ELLIS MC
MACHINE GUN CORPS
9TH OCTOBER 1918 AGE 29
BURIED: HIGHLAND CEMETERY, ROCLINCOURT, FRANCE
Horace Ellis's mother chose a quotation from Shakespeare's Henry VIII for her son's inscription. In the play, the time has come for Thomas Cromwell to say farewell to his mentor, Cardinal Wolsey. To Cromwell, Wolsey has been a good, noble and true master. But Wolsey has some advice for him - "fling away ambition: by that sin fell the angels":
Be just and fear not:
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then if thou fall'st,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr!
For all their current obscurity, one wouldn't have to have known Shakespeare to know these lines. They featured in dictionaries of quotations, as mottos for newspapers, as dictation exercises for school children, passages to be learnt off by heart for elocution lessons or to be written out in handwriting copy books.
Before the outbreak of war, Horace Ellis was a lithographic artist working for a general printers. He was also a member of a territorial regiment, the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry. Serving with them, he reached the rank of acting sergeant before he took a commission in the Machine Gun Corps, serving with the 6th Squadron. He was killed on 9 October 1918 in the Second Battle of Le Cateau. The first battle had taken place on 26 August 1914, twenty-two days after he outbreak of war, and was part of the British army's fighting withdrawal. The town remained in German hands until the last month of the war..