Spr Robert John Ellis, 3rd Fd Coy 23 May 1944

Sapper Robert John Ellis Headstone in the Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery
Inscription to the memory of Sapper ROBERT JOHN ELLIS on the family grave marker in Mount Hope Cemetery in Toronto, Ontario

Sapper Robert John Ellis was born and raised in Toronto ON, the son of Alfred Joseph and Emily Bertha Ellis.  He was working as a box cutter at the Canadian Wirebound Box Company when he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Engineers on 18 May 1942.  He has some prior service in the 56th Field Battery, a Royal Canadian Artillery militia unit.

Robert completed his sapper training at A5 Canadian Engineer Training Centre in Camp Petawawa ON and by August was qualified Carpenter Group ‘B’ Class II, a higher than normal skill level for a new soldier. Robert landed in England in January 1943 and was held at the Canadian Engineer Reinforcement Unit. While taking part in bridge training in April, he lost two fingers in a crane accident.

Robert joined the 3rd Field Company in Sicily in July 1943. In support of the 1st Division, he fought through the Sicilian Campaign, the boot of Italy, the Moro River and Ortona. 

Starting in March 1944, the Eighth Army, including the 1st Division and its engineers, was secretly moved from the Adriatic Front across Italy to the area of the Foggia Plain south of Naples. Robert and his company focused on preparing for the planned attack on the Gustav Line under the peak of Monte Cassino, scheduled for May 1944. 

On 23 May 1944, at 0600 hours, the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry right and the Seaforth Highlanders left, assaulted the Adolf Gustav Line. It was a day of violence and hard fighting to establish a bridgehead. With the 3rd Field Company in support clearing mines, the 2nd Brigade suffered the worst carnage of the Italian Campaign. Sapper It was on that day that Sapper Robert John Ellis was killed. He is buried in the Cassino Commonwealth Cemetery. He was 25 years old when he died. He had two brothers both serving - brother Stanley was in the air force and brother in the navy.

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