Sketch by Jack Chalker

A Family is Born


A Family is Born

Alfred Edward Nellis was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire on the 10th July 1902 to Alfred and Elizabeth Nellis, (A Master Plumber and a ‘Bottom Ender’ as they were known, a Fisherman’s daughter). His schooling took him to The Tuthill Nautical School, [Later The Graham Sea Training School], at the age of eleven (being ‘Press Ganged! to join from his Junior School) and from here to sea in 1917 in the Merchant Navy serving as an Apprentice Artificer, where he was to suffer being torpedoed on an Atlantic crossing.

On the 3rd April 1923, at the age of just short of 21 years, he decided to keep his feet on land and joined the Army, where his records show him to be about 6 feet tall, 162 lb, Brown eyes and Dark Brown Hair and he became - 1425123 Trooper Nellis A.E. – Blues and Royals, followed by a transfer on the 6th April 1923, as a Gunner in the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

Following various postings including Ireland, Malta and Hong Kong, plus various locations in the UK and promotion to Sergeant,

Father's Picture-tn

Alfred and Mary in 1954

He had married Mary Elizabeth Alderson in January 1933 and was blessed with Muriel born in Scarborough in 1934.

Drill Hall Barry-tn

The Drill Hall, Barry

Alfred was then stationed at The Drill Hall, Barry, Glamorgan as Permanent Staff Instructor to the Glamorgan Heavy Battery of Seven Fire Command, where in 1937. The family grew in the same year when Michael was born.

Dad, Mu & Mick 1938601-tnDad, Mu & Mick 1938_2602-tn

Alfred with Muriel and Michael

In February 1939 Alfred was promoted to Battery Sergeant Major and posted to Singapore leaving his family at Barry.

Alfred’s family were scheduled to join him in Singapore in 1940, however childhood illnesses meant they missed their boat, so they were rescheduled for 1941, fate intervened and they again failed to make the Docks, although some of their possessions did in in a cabin trunk, a second trunk staying at home with the sick children.

The first trunk never reached Singapore but war did when in December 1941, the Japanese attacked Malaya, Singapore was then under threat.

Posted to the 9th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery, he served on the 15” Guns at Changi during the invasion and after their destruction, the 7th and 9th Coast Regiments, Royal Artillery, became Infantry in the abortive defence of Singapore Island.

‘Pop’ as he became known to his men, because of his age, (40 years old), had been acting R.Q.M.S. since October 1941 and his promotion to R.Q.M.S. became substantive on the day of the surrender of Singapore on 15th February 1942.

Pop, like many others tried his best to keep some form of record of their treatment and behaviour during their period of incarceration, using what  ‘paper’ came to hand. As he wanted to keep track of ‘His Lads’ to let their relatives know how they had managed over the three and a half years of imprisonment.


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