SAPPER ARTHUR OLIVER ELLIS
21ST OCTOBER 1917 AGE 32
BURIED: TYNE COT CEMETERY, BELGIUM
Reader, prepare to meet thy God.
Death is at no great distance; thou hast but a short time to do good. Acquire a heavenly disposition while here; for there will be no change after this life. ... In whatever disposition or state of soul thou diest, in that thou wilt be found in the eternal world. Death refines nothing, purifies nothing, kills no sin, helps to no glory. Let thy continual bent and inclination be to God, to holiness, to charity, to mercy, and to heaven: then, fall when thou mayest, thou wilt fall well.
This passage, from the writings of the Methodist biblical scholar and theologian Adam Clarke (c1760-1832), offers a stern warning: we know not the day nor the hour when death will take us so we must live our lives in readiness. After we are dead it will be too late to change our ways and win our place in 'the eternal world'.
It really is a very stern warning, which Ellis's step-mother chose. Other inscriptions convey the certainty that if a man dies fighting for his country he will earn his place in heaven: 'Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life' (Revelation 2:10).
Sapper Ellis was a eucalyptus distiller from Macedon just north west of Melbourne in Australia. He was killed in the fighting around the Menin Road. A fellow sapper told the Red Cross Enquiry Bureau that they were going forward:
in extended order as shelling was heavy. Casualty was in front of me and I saw an H.E. shell land alongside and he went down. I went to his assistance. Death was due to concussion. He was buried where he fell.