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John Walter Ellis was born in Reading, England, in February 1895. At some time unknown he immigrated to Canada and settled in Tillsonburg, Ontario. In May 1916 he enlisted at Tillsonburg. He served overseas in France, where he died May 13, 1917. The majority of the letters are addressed to his wife Katherine "Kitty" in Glasgow, Scotland, who, when her husband enlisted, returned to Scotland to live with her parents. The collection consists of more than thirty letters, several photographs, and a small number of postcards.

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