Private Orwell Ennis

Four of the eight sons of the Ennis family of Ayr, Ontario enlisted and served overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War 1. The oldest was Orwell, born March 19, 1892. Orwell was the sixth child of the family, preceded by two older brothers, Arthur and John, and three older sisters, Ethel, Edna and Lillian. He had five younger brothers, Irwin, Cecil, Wesley, Robert and Alfred. Irwin, Cecil and Wesley also fought with the CEF. The Archive contains paged dedicated to them as well.

Orwell enlisted in Winnipeg, Manitoba on December 29th, 1914, just months after his brother Irwin. Both joined the 27th Battalion formed in Winnipeg, and were assigned to the same platoon. The brothers stayed together for training in Canada and England; while in Belgium and France they were part of the same Battalion Scout Section.

On May 1915 the 27th Battalion travelled by train to Quebec City for embarkment overseas. The brothers arrived at Dibgate, England and then were moved to a camp at Otterpool. By September, 1915 they were in Belgium, and had joined the battle line of the Allied front by October.

Orwell was wounded in his right arm in January of 1916 and was sent back to England to a convalescent camp; he was back in Belgium by June of that year. Tragically, he died from a shell explosion during a night patrol sent out to locate the enemy on September 27th, 1916.

The following letters written by Orwell, Irwin and the commanding officer in charge on the night Orwell died provide a compelling look at life on the front line for a WWI soldier.

This information, and the letters were provided by the Ennis' nephew Vic Gillette.


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