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  • Christina Drummond

Lieutenant Ellis Edward Arthur Chetwynd Talbot GC MBE, Corps of Royal Engineers

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1941, Lieutenant Ellis Edward Arthur Chetwynd Talbot GC MBE, Corps of Royal Engineers (attached to the R.A.F.), was reported missing, believed killed while flying over Sicily. Educated at Harrow and Cambridge, when war broke out he volunteered for the Royal Engineers and was appointed Second Lieutenant in October, 1939. He arrived in Malta a year later to take charge of all Army bomb disposal work, as Malta had been the focus of frequent and increasing attacks since Italy had declared war in June. He was given the task of establishing its first Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Section. Prior to his arrival in Malta, he had earned the Empire Gallantry Medal (converted to a George Cross) for picking up an unexploded bomb and carrying it away on his shoulder when he learned that special equipment to deal with it would not be available for several hours. For six months from December of 1940 he and his Bomb Disposal Section received 96 UXB reports and dealt with ten tons of bombs, a considerable achievement for which he was awarded the MBE. In May of 1941 he was given a new appointment, as liaison officer between the Army and the RAF. On the day of his death he boarded RAF Blenheim ZL7638, one of four Blenheims from 107 Squadron based at RAF Luqa and sent to attack ships off the coast of Southern Italy; two of the Blenheims returned, forced to turn back due to engine trouble. Hours passed with no sign of the other two, so they were chalked up as missing until RAF Intelligence picked up a report from Italian radio that two RAF Blenheims had collided in mid-air off the coast while taking evasive action under enemy fire. Lieutenant Talbot had gone on the raid for the experience, he believed that as he was taking reports from returning pilots he should know what it was like for them. Ellis, from Shropshire, was 21 years old.

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