Ellis, Edward R. (704th)

Edward R. Ellis 1Edward R. Ellis

Biography:  Edward Riley Ellis was born on December 10, 1918, in Oakland, Maine.  He was the son of Edward A. Ellis and Etta Mae Abbot and attended local schools through the grammar grades. After leaving school, he worked for the highway department as a laborer.

Service Time: Edward entered the service on February 5, 1942, at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. He received his basic training at Pine Camp in New York, and received his Marksman qualification with the M1 Carbine in January of 1944. He was eventually assigned to Company B of the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion, which was activated at Camp Pine. They shipped out from the Boston port on February 27, 1944, and arrived in England on March 12th. While still training in England, they were the first unit converted to the new M18 TD, in May.

The unit landed at Utah Beach on July 13th and participated in the Cobra breakout at the end of the month, advancing into Brittany. They raced east across France, passing north of Orleans, and crossed the Moselle River to Luneville in early September, remaining in the general area through October. They fought in the Morhange region in November and crossed the Saar River by month’s end.  Deployed to the Ardennes on December 19th and fought around Bastogne in January, 1945, then moved back south.  They advanced into Germany near Sinz in February, fighting through the Siegfried Line and into the Saar-Moselle triangle.

On February 1, 1945, while traveling as part of a convoy, Edward was driving with the unit’s 2nd Lieutenant when they hit a mine or possibly were hit by artillery fire. The jeep flipped onto Edward and he also received schrapnel wounds to the face. He was evacuated and spent time in hospitals before being discharged at Fort Dix, New Jersey, on October 29, 1945. He recovered but did lose some of his eyesight due to the injuries. He received credit for the campaigns of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.  He was awarded the Purple Heart, the EAME Medal, American Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He also received the Distinguished Unit Badge and left the service at the rank of Private.

Honorable Discharge 

Edward R. Ellis 2Edward returned home and to his job with the Oakland Highway Department where he work work for 18 years. In 1952, he married the former Shirley Alberta Cookson who was from Albion, Maine, and was the daughter of Silas Lynwood Cookson and Lizzie Dow. The couple made their residence in Oakland, Maine, and had three children, Edward, born in 1952, Carla in 1957, and Arthur in 1958. Edward would later work briefly for the Halifax Hatchery in Winslow and several summers for the Pine Grove Cemetery in Waterville.

In his spare time, Edward enjoyed playing cards and was a member of the VFW. He passed away on August 18, 1991, and was buried in the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Augusta, Maine.  I want to thank Edward’s son, Eddie, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.