b. 22/03/1920 Newport, Shropshire. d. 09/10/1941 Malta.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 24-25/08/1940 Loughor, Wales.
Ellis Edward Arthur Chetwynd Talbot (1920-1941) was born on 22nd March 1920 in Newport, Shropshire, the youngest son of Reverend Arthur Henry Chetwynd-Talbot and his wife Eveline Mary. Edward, as he was more commonly known, was one of six children in total. The children chose not to adopt the hyphenated surname but use Chetwynd as a fourth Christian name instead. Arthur was the Provost of Edgmond St Peter’s, Newport, Shropshire. Edward was educated at Harrow where he particularly skilled in practical subjects. After finishing at Harrow, Edward gained a place at Trinity Hall, Cambridge to study Engineering. He had to abandon his studies in the autumn of 1939 following the outbreak of war, having only completed one year.
Following the start of the war, he enlisted in the Corps of Royal Engineers and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 103 Bomb Disposal Section. On the night of 24th-25th August 1940 at Loughor, Wales, he had to deal with an unexploded bomb, which was so deep it took 12 and a half hours to dig down to it. When the bomb was brought to the surface, he diagnosed it as a delayed action type and ordered his men to a safe distance while he examined it. As the bomb appeared to be a new type, he decided to remove it to a place where it could do little damage if it exploded. Keeping his men under cover, he carried the bomb on his shoulders for 200yds and placed it in a safe spot. From the start there was a risk the bomb could explode.
Edward’s actions saw him awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Military Division on 17th September 1940. Less than a week later, King George VI announced the creation of the George Cross, and Edward automatically was entitled to exchange his EGM for a GC. After the events at Loughor, he was posted to Malta. He arrived on the island in November 1940, and Edward was the first trained and experienced Royal Engineer officer and he brought with him the latest state of the art equipment for dealing with unexploded bombs.
The task of bomb disposal on Malta was extremely hazardous with only 32 men to do the job in difficult rocky terrain. The island was also under daily bombing raids from the Italians, and there was a great variety of bombs which had to be studied, and no sooner had they worked out one device, it was replaced by another. Of the 32 men, however, none was to die from bomb disposal. General Dobbie, the Governor of Malta, became concerned that Edward was at great risk of killing himself and knew he was keen to learn to fly so appointed him liaison officer to the RAF in the summer of 1941. At this time, he also learnt that he had been awarded the MBE for his bomb disposal work in Malta.
Tragically, on 9th October 1941, he was a passenger on a Blenheim aircraft of 107 Squadron when it collided with another Blenheim on a shipping sweep off Capo Alessio, Sicily. All men aboard both aircraft were killed. The bodies were all recovered and they were buried in Catania War Cemetery, Sicily. Edward’s medals including the GC, MBE, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star and War Medal 1939-45 were donated to the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, Kent.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL ENGINEERS MUSEUM, CHATHAM, KENT.
BURIAL PLACE: CATANIA WAR CEMETERY, CATANIA, SICILY.
Ellis Talbot's medals on display at the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, Kent.