Vol. 100: The Great War Memoir of Ralph Ellis, Sussex Artist and Soldier


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Editor: Sue Hepburn
Volume: Volume 100
Published 2020
ISBN: 978 0 85445 082 4

published jointly with West Sussex Record Office

Volume Description

It is rare to find a Great War memoir that portrays both in images and in words the experience of a soldier in the ranks of the British Army on the Western Front. The five-volume memoir by Ralph Ellis tells the story of his service with the 7th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment from 1914 until he was wounded in 1917. It is a personal story but one also shared by the comrades with whom he served, and by every infantryman who experienced the horrors and hardships of the Western Front.

At first Ralph drew on his artistic skills to record what he was witnessing and then employed his gift as a writer to produce a compelling narrative, which complements the images and graphically describes what it was like to actually be there. Like the vast majority of those who served, Ralph was not a professional soldier; he was an ordinary man, who found himself in extraordinary circumstances and rose to the challenge.

Although the Great War was only four years, it cast a long shadow over the lives of those who served. In the aftermath Ralph returned to his home town of Arundel in Sussex, determined to rebuild his life. Despite being permanently disabled as a result of his injury, he became a renowned designer and painter of inn signs. But his first love was the West Sussex countryside, with which he had an enduring connection, and throughout his life he drew and painted the iconic downland landscapes surrounding Arundel.

In this volume, Ralph Ellis’s Great War memoir is reproduced in full colour with a contextual commentary provided by historian, Sue Hepburn.

About the Editor

Sue Hepburn has been studying and writing about the Great War for over twenty years, discovering her passion while undertaking her BA and MA degrees in History at the University of Sussex.

Inspired by the distinguished Great War service of her grandfather, 2nd Lieut. Amyas Harrison MC, Sue’s attention has focused on the personal testimonies of men who served with the British Army on the Western Front. As well as visiting battlefields and cemeteries to pay her respects to those who died, she studies the experiences of men who survived, put the War behind them and, against the odds, got on with their lives.

About the book

The publication of Volume 100 is a major milestone in the Society’s history. To mark the occasion, and to do full justice to Ralph Ellis’s Memoir, this important volume is printed in large format, in full colour throughout, on high-grade art paper.
30 cm x 30 cm; xiv + 286 pp; hardback; full colour; colour dustjacket.

This is a joint publication by the Society and West Sussex Record Office, where Ralph Ellis’s diaries are held, and which owns the copyright in the original manuscript and images.

Image gallery

A gallery of the images made by Ralph Ellis which are reproduced in the printed volume can be reviewed here.


The book was reviewed by Freddie Lawrence in Sussex Life, April/May 2021. A copy can be downloaded here.