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Thread: The last Desert Rat: Incredible tale of heroism behind now-famous painting

  1. #1
    Senior Member happyslapper's Avatar
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    Default The last Desert Rat: Incredible tale of heroism behind now-famous painting

    [SIZE=4]I was the last Desert Rat left firing at Rommel's Panzers: Incredible tale of heroism behind Antiques Roadshow painting

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    • Ray Ellis, 93, is the only surviving 'Tommy' depicted in the painting
    • Artwork shows the last day of the Battle of Knightsbridge in June 1942
    • Viewers will see Mr Ellis describe the 'miracle' that saved his life tomorrow [BBC1 20.00, Sun 31st Mar]






    Ordered to ‘fight to the last man and the last round’, they stuck to their guns as their comrades fell around them.
    For three days, the brave band of Desert Rats suffered relentless Panzer attacks and mounting casualties as they held the line in North Africa from Rommel’s advancing tanks.


    Their heroism during one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War was later immortalised on canvas.
    Now the only surviving ‘Tommy’ depicted in the painting, 93-year-old Ray Ellis, has told of the ‘miracle’ that saved his life.


    The helmeted gunner in the foreground of the artwork, he is shown fighting to the end as the bodies of his brothers in arms from the 426th Battery of the South Nottinghamshire Hussars lie all around.


    In an emotional moment to be shown on BBC1’s Antiques Roadshow tomorrow, the former sergeant points to the dramatic painting and says: ‘I am that man. I fired the last round.’
    Describing the events of the last day of the battle on June 6, 1942, Mr Ellis told how he remained at his 25-pounder gun and witnessed the death of the shirtless comrade beside him.
    He said: ‘My regiment had been given the order to fight to the last man and the last round and not to retire, and this painting shows our position after a long day’s battle.

    As if that wasn't enough...

    Mr Ellis was shipped from Libya to a prison camp in Italy. He escaped by marching out of the main gate as if on a work party and hid in the mountains for a year. A young girl discovered him and led him to a farming family who sheltered him.
    Mr Ellis named one of his daughters, Nerina, after her, and has returned regularly to the hill village of Massa Fermana, near Ancona, to visit the family who kept him alive.
    Full article here:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...-painting.html

    I'm definitely going to be on the look out for his book, "Once a Hussar".

    Incredible man.

  2. #2
    Senior Member happyslapper's Avatar
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    Ray Ellis passed away last week in Nottingham, at the age of 94.

    Rest in Peace,
    Never forgotten.

  3. #3
    "Wise and Grumpy" Ban Stick Wielder of Death digrar's Avatar
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    Mislead by the title, I was thinking that couldn't possibly be correct.

    Rest in Peace Ray.

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    My father's WWII unit, the 87th Infantry Division JUNKHO's Avatar
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    + Rest in Peace +

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    Senior Member Scarren's Avatar
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    Those Guys are some tough S.O.B`s Rest in peace..

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    Senior Member Connaught Ranger's Avatar
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    May he + Rest in Peace +

    You did the S.N.H. proud service.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Penny the Penguin's Avatar
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    Remarkable! Thanks for posting happyslapper.

    Rest in Peace Ray.

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