NIMEIPENDA HII HABARI NA IMENIFUNDISHA KITU CHA MUHIM SANA'' R.I.P. HAPPY PEOPLE"
Dorothy Ellis, 93, the last surviving widow of a soldier from the First World War, laid a wreath in memory of her late husband, Wilfred, who died in 1982, at a ceremony commemorating the Armistice in Staffordshire this morning.
Wilfred Ellis survived being shot, gassed and left for dead in the mud of northern France to return home to eventually marry Dorothy, who was born three years after the end of the war.
His remarkable wartime experiences formed part of the inspiration for War Horse, the children's book by Michael Morpurgo which was made into an award-winning play and then a Hollywood film, directed by Steven Spielberg.
Ellis, along with fellow soldiers Albert Weeks and Arthur Budgett, used to meet up with writer Michael Morpurgo in a pub in the village of Iddesleigh in Devon and tell him stories of what life had been like in the trenches.
Dorothy Ellis said 'Michael Morpurgo was always a friend of ours and Wilfred told him about the war - which he [Morpurgo] didn't know anything about. But, also, we had a picture of a horse in our sitting room and together with the information that Wilfred gave him, that was the beginning of War Horse.'
Mr Ellis was born in Wimbledon, south-west London. He signed up aged 17 years and ten months.
A private in the Norfolk Regiment, Mr Ellis had survived the horror of the Western Front. His pencil-written service record reveals he suffered a leg wound in March 1918, was gassed in August and returned home in time for Christmas.
Mrs Ellis later remembered: 'He must have been terrified. He would rather have died than been taken prisoner.’ But fate took an unusual twist.
‘Eventually, he hobbled back to the British lines, although he said he had no idea how he did it. He had a strong faith.’
Mrs Ellis says that, despite his leg injury, he was one of the best dancers she knew. A trained violinist, he worked on the cruise ship RMS Empress of Britain and in seaside resorts after the war. He moved to Devon in the Thirties to be close to his sick father. It was there that he met Dorothy.
He rarely spoke of his wartime experiences, except to Morpurgo. Mr Ellis, who later worked with his wife dealing antiques, died shortly before the novel was published in 1982 and never knew the impact that the story of his early life would have on future generations.
Mrs Ellis, who turned 93 today, stood alongside present-day army cadets at a ceremony marking the Armistice at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire this morning.
Her niece, Pauline Smith, 59, from Highbridge, Somerset, said: 'She is very proud of Wilfred and what he did, and she has always felt that it was important that people, in particular the young ones, should know what the soldiers went through.
The outdoor ceremony this morning took place a day after Remembrance Sunday was marked at the Cenotaph in central London with a two-minute silence and a march past by 10,000 veterans and civilians, alongside hundreds of similar ceremonies at home and abroad.
This morning's event took place within the walls of the Armed Forces Memorial, which is designed to allow a shaft of sunlight to dissect its walls hitting the bronze wreath sculpture when the two minutes silence takes place.
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