John Collen Ensor


Lieutenant; 17th (Service) Battalion [1st Glamorgan], The Welsh Regiment

Died of wounds: 26th November 1917, near Cambrai

John Collen Ensor was born in Llanishen in 1895 to Dr Henry and May. His grandfather was Thomas Henry Ensor who, as well as building the family home at The Hollies on Station Road, was infamous as the man who went to court over the libeling of the late Cardiff politician John Batchelor. John’s father was an eminent ophthalmic surgeon who died in 1910 when John was just 15.

John attended Llandaff Cathedral School and Epsom College and was commencing his studies in the University of Wales College, Cardiff. However, he decided to enlist instead and in 1915 was commissioned in the 17th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment.

In 1917, this battalion was part of the 40th Division along with the 12th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, in which fellow Llanishen man Glynne Yorath was serving. This division took part in the Battle of Cambrai, one of the first battles of the war which saw the massed use of tanks. By late November the British had advanced to Bourlon Wood, a grim and forbidding place shattered by artillery.

On 23rd November the 40th Division pushed into the wood, supported by their lumbering tanks. In the confined and confusing space they were easy prey for the Germans, who repeatedly ambushed the British columns.

John Ensor was wounded on this first day of the battle and evacuated to the rear. However, he died of his wounds only three days later, aged just 22. He is buried in Grevilliers Cemetery in France and is also commemorated in St Isan’s Church and on the family grave.