Ross Laird Ellis was born in High River, Alberta on 15 June 1915. He joined the Canadian Militia in 1932, as a member of the 2nd Alberta Mounted Rifles, a militia cavalry unit. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1934, and moved to the 15th Alberta Light Horse (commanded by J. Fred Scott) when his unit amalgamated with the 15th Canadian Light Horse.
He was taken on strength of the Canadian Army on 24 May 1940. He attended Infantry School at A16 Infantry Training Centre, Currie Barracks, Calgary for six months, and was promoted to Lieutenant on 22 August 1940. In November, he moved to England and joined the Calgary Highlanders, then stationed at Aldershot, where he was posted to “D” Company as commander of 18 Platoon.
In February 1941, Ellis and Sergeant C. Eden were selected to participate with their platoon in an Arms and Endurance Competition, including a ten-mile march and range shoot. The platoon finished first of all Second Canadian Division teams and second overall of all the units in South Eastern Command that participated.
Ellis went to No. 4 Wing, Canadian Training School for a course, being praised by the commander of the wing and retained as Chief Instructor. It was during this period he was promoted to Acting Major, and returned to Canada to complete a tour of duty as senior instructor at the Senior Battle Wing School in Vernon, British Columbia. Ellis was in fact responsible for planning much of the instruction at the school. He returned to Brighton, England, and the Calgary Highlanders in January 1944.
During the Battle of the Scheldt, Ellis took over command of the 1st Battalion; a policy was in place in 2nd Canadian Corps that infantry battalion commanders should be replaced after six months of combat where possible and though Lt-Col. MacLauchlan had served in the line from the first battles in Normandy in July, he was replaced by Ellis towards the end of October 1944. Ellis served as commanding officer into 1945. After the Rhine crossings, Ellis fell ill and was replaced by Dalt Heyland.
Ellis was again a Captain when he landed in France in July 1944 as second in command of “A” Company. The CO noted his natural talent and fighting ability, and brought him into the battalion’s Tactical Headquarters in the role of Battle Adjutant. His main duties thereafter involved interpreting orders, communicating with the company commanders, and also reporting accurately what the battalion was doing to brigade headquarters.
Ross Ellis was stricken off strength of the active battalion on 14 December 1945. After the war, Ellis and his wife Marjorie had two children, Robert A. Ellis and Leslie Ellen Ellis. He obtained a Chrysler franchise in High River, selling cars and trucks, and in 1947 was elected to the High River Town Council, followed by his election as mayor in 1952, a position he held for 12 years. He was also active in Provincial Municipal Affairs, serving on an Advisory Board, and was elected Member of the Legislative Assembly in Alberta in 1955, where he served until 1959.
In 1964, he retired as Mayor of High River and became Town Manager. In 1967 he was appointed Town Manager of Hinton, Alberta, and in April 1975 went to Edmonton as Head of Tax Research Council.
He eventually retired to Adams Lake British Columbia.
Lieutenant Colonel Ross Laird Ellis, DSO, CD, died on 10 March 1983.