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Forces War Records Blog

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW REUNITES WAR HERO RAY WITH PAINTING OF HIS PART IN BATTLE.

A WAR hero has appeared on the Antiques Roadshow TV programme to see the valuation of a painting depicting him firing the final shots of a brutal battle. Former sergeant Ray Ellis, 93, of Hucknall, was the sole British survivor of the Battle of Knightsbridge in the Second World War. He was tracked down by the BBC show when the canvas was taken in for valuation. The picture shows Mr Ellis, just before he became the only member of 426th Battery of the South Nottinghamshire Hussars to survive three days of panzer attacks by Germany's Afrika Korps in June 1942 at a barren desert crossing near Tobruk, Libya. The picture features Mr Ellis in the foreground getting ready to fire a round from a 25-pounder gun next to a comrade who was killed moments later. He told last night's show: "My regiment had been given the order to fight to the last man and the last round and not to retire, and this painting shows our position after a long day's battle. "I fought in that battle. I am in fact that man there. And the reason I can say that is because the regiment was almost wiped out – but by some miracle, I was the last man virtually and I fired the last round. "That round, which was at about six o'clock at night, hit a Mark IV tank. "Then the man standing at the side of me was killed because a German tank had come up behind us and fired its machine gun, almost point-blank. "And I took a deep breath and waited for mine. For some reason, the tank didn't fire and I survived and am still here." Mr Ellis, who went on to be a head teacher, was captured with about 90 men from his regiment, which had already served in the siege of Tobruk the previous year. The rest were killed. The picture, by war artist Terence Cuneo, was completed in 1978 under the eye of Mr Ellis. It was taken to the Antiques Roadshow when it visited Newstead Abbey. Mr Cuneo, who served as a sapper in the war, went on to become the official artist for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The painting was valued at between £30,000 and £50,000 on last night's show, one of two filmed at the abbey. The second is likely to be shown in the autumn. Source: Thisisnottingham Via: Forces War Records Blog.
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