Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School
Two reports of the award of the Distinguished Service Medal to Peter Ellis.
Peter lived in Hall Street, Maes-y-Dre, and went to the Town Church School before
attending the County School from 1930 until 1934. He joined
the Royal Navy on leaving school.
from the The Aberdare Leader 21 March 1942
contributed by Anne Hughes, née Ellis
THINK OF THE PETER ELLISES.
FEW of us on the “home-front,” working in pit, factory, shop or the office, can realise what it means to be involved in the nightmare of modern “blitz” warfare; to be dive-bombed, shelled by 40 m.p.h tanks, machine-gunned by screaming 400m.p.h. fighter-planes, attacked from the rear by parachutists or “infiltrators”— to live in a livid hell of dust and blast and fire. A great gulf of experience separates us from our boys who have fought in Flanders and escaped weaponless and in rags from Dunkirk, fought in Norway, in Libya, in Greece, in Crete, on Malaya, in Burma, in Java — always against an enemy with superior air strength, tank strength, and fire power — and who will go on fighting in many theatres of war until jack-booted German and leering Japanese power are destroyed. One of our boys who has gone through the hell of battle with the Nazi war-machine and not been broken by it, is cheery, fair-haired, boyish 23-year-old Peter Ellis, who (as reported in page 1) was home for week-end leave after being decorated by the King at Buckingham Palace with the Distinguished Service Medal “for gallantry, fortitude, and endurance” in the Battle of Crete.
A Petty Officer Telegraphist, Royal Navy, Peter, who joined the service 8½ years ago straight from Aberdare County School, was one of the last to leave shattered, smoking, bomb-pitted Crete, where until the last minute he worked his instruments at a shore station keeping open vital communications. He went through all the terror of the kolossal German air-borne invasion; he goes back to his job smiling, ready to do what comes to him.
Mr. G. H. Hall, M.P., Financial Secretary to the Admiralty, speaking to the Divisional Labour Party Conference on Saturday, said “Let the people of this country measure their war effort by the effort of the men in the services who are prepared to give their all in this fight.” We may feel dissatisfaction about phases of the war; we would not be anything of a democracy if we accepted everything like robots, but dissatisfaction must not lead to inertia, half-heartedness, or reluctance to make personal sacrifices. If you are tempted to shirk or complain about the new restrictions enforced, think of the young men like Peter Ellis who carry the greatest burdens and take the greatest risks in this war. Don’t let them down. Develop the offensive spirit in your jobs! on the home front, too!
“The Aberdare Leader” has become a great link with home for boys fighting the Axis in all parts of the world. The latest instance of this comes from Petty Officer Telegraphist Ellis. In the trenches round Canea in Crete where Valley boys fought the German parachutists and dive-bombers, he saw the “Leader,” several months old, but still very acceptable, being read with avidity. Doubtless the boys “out there” (meaning all the distant theatres of war) read with interest news about the way Aberdare is helping the war effort. They have had much to read that should encourage them. Let us tell them, now, in this critical time that we are willing to accept an austere life; are alive to the dangers of the situation, to the need for a 100 per cent. effort on the home front, to the vital importance of giving them aircraft, the tanks, the guns, the ships they need for their victory and ours.
An image of the original article from the newspaper can be seen here
Aberdare Boy’s D.S.M.
FOR “OUTSTASDING GALLANTRY,
FORTITUDE AND ENDURANCE”
Home for week-end leave after being decorated with the Distinguished Service Medal by the King at Buckingham Palace on March 3rd was fair-haired, fresh-faced, 23-year-old Petty Officer Telegraphist PETER ELLIS, son of Mr. P. Ellis, 17 Hall Street, Aberdare, and grandson of Mrs. Hewlett, of the same street.
The award is for “outstanding gallantry, fortitude and endurance” in the Battle of Crete, and though Peter, like most of the men of the Navy, is not very ready to talk about his own exploits in the war, it is possible to give readers some idea of his experiences in what must rank as one of the most amazing battles in history.
He has been in the Navy for 8½ years, having gone to sea straight from the Aberdare Boys’ County School, and spent his first two years at sea in the Far East— Singapore, Hong Kong, etc., etc. He was out there up to the outbreak of war and for a little time afterwards, and was then sent to Egypt.
He was in Crete before the Nazi descent on Greece, and went all through the great German air-borne invasion of the island — being one or the very last to leave from the telegraph station on the island.
Peter has pictures of the great “blitz” engraved on his mind — the mighty Nazi air armada, parachutes opening in the sky “like lilies and poppies” and thousands of parachutists descending, terrific dive bombing that wiped out a town “as if a great heel was being rubbed into it.”
It was for his gallantry, fortitude and endurance in remaining at his post until the very end, keeping the vital communication line with the island open that Peter got his D.S.M. He was “missing” for the last 24 hours, but got away on the last destroyer, and had “a surprisingly nice trip back.”
ON TO SYRIA.
Peter left Crete on the 1st of the month—had two days’ rest in Alexandria—and within seven days was crossing into Syria as telegraphist attached to the Australian column which pushed its way along the coast to Beirut, working in perfect co-operation with ships operating off the Royal Australian Navy. He came back to this country in December.
Peter takes great pride in the reception the neighbours of Hall Street have given him; he is proud, too, of the part the boys of the street are playing in the fighting services. He recalls with pride that DOUGLAS BARNES (now holding a commission in the R.A.F.), won the D.F.M. as a sergeant pilot.
Peter referred appreciatively to the “Pars about Servicemen” feature in “Leader,” which lets the boys in the services know about friends and old schoolmates in the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and gave one striking instance of the way the “Leader” acts as a link between the boys “in the front line” and home.
In the trenches at Maleme in Crete, where Welsh troops were waiting the onslaught of dive-bombers and parachutists, he saw the “Aberdare Leader” being read—a copy many weeks old, but still very appreciated.
Peter was educated at the National School (under Mr. J. C. Poole, secretary of the Aberdare Savings Association), and Aberdare Boys’ County School, where he played in the rugger XV.
He returned to his station on Sunday. This is the first D.S.M. to come to Aberdare in this war, we believe, and local folk will feel great pride in the honour he has won. He is a credit to Aberdare and to the Royal Navy, this cheery, modest and gallant petty officer. Best wishes, Peter!