John William Ell (1918-1944)

John William Ell

John Ell spent four years at the College after graduating from high school in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania. He worked on the Dickinsonian, and was a photography editor of the Microcosm. He was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma, pledging with John Cockey, and served as president of the Catholic Club and of the Belles Lettres Society. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was the recipient of the Patton Prize for 1940.

Ell entered the Army in August 1941 and soon after volunteered for the newly-formed parachute infantry units. He was commissioned at Fort Benning, Georgia in January 1943 and a year later was posted in England. On D-Day, 1944, his regiment, the 501st of the 101st Airborne Division, landed in Normandy before dawn. Ell was later wounded but returned to his unit in time for the airborne assault into Holland to seize the Rhine bridges. On September 18, 1944, his platoon was ordered to defend newly-seized positions against an enemy counter-attack. While leading this defense against superior forces, John Ell was killed by mortar fire. For this action, he was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously; he was twenty-six. Prior to his death, Ell sent an eloquent letter to his parents from Normandy, trying to prepare them for the possibility that he may not return.

More information about other Dickinson war casualties can be found through the online project "In Remembrance" (see link for related entries below).

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Dickinson College Archives
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