Ellis, Burton F.

Alternative names
Active 1903
Active 2000

Biographical notes:

U.S. Army prosecutor.

From the description of Burton F. Ellis papers, 1946-1947. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70983361

Burton F. Ellis was a United States (U.S.) Army prosecutor who started his military career in June 1942 when he volunteered in Miami and attended basic training. He later became a military justice instructor. From May 1943-Dec. 1944, he was stationed at the Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Office at New Delhi, Calcutta, and China. From May 1945-Jan. 1948, he was involved in war crimes trial operations at Wiesbaden, Augsburg, Dachau, and was also involved in the Malmedy case. He particapated in a Senate investigation in 1950-1951, and the Korean War as well as the Army Staff, Hawaii from 1951-1958.

From the description of The Burton Ellis papers, 1958. (US Army, Mil Hist Institute). WorldCat record id: 47349176

Burton French Ellis was born in Troy, Idaho on September 13, 1903 to Jennie Sullivan Ellis and Remington Peter Ellis. The family moved in 1904 and Ellis spent his childhood and school years travelling between Lewiston, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; Manchester, Iowa; Humphrey, Idaho; and ranches in Montana. He attended the University of Idaho from the early 1920s, taking time off between semesters to work in the oil fields of California. He was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and continued to support the organization as well as the U of I Foundation throughout his life. He graduated from the U of I with a BA and LLB in 1929 and moved to Los Angeles where he continued course work in law and accounting. While living in Los Angeles, he met and married Dee Hoffman, a native of Kansas City, Missouri.

Burton Ellis was employed by the Texas Company as a tax attorney from 1929 to 1942, living in Los Angeles until 1938 when he was transferred to New York City. He had previously been active in the ROTC program during college and joined the National Guard in California and New York City until 1942 when he took official military leave and joined the Air Corps as a 1st Lieutenant. After training, he was transferred to Miami Beach and Atlantic City where he taught International and Military Law and was the Assistant Staff Judge Advocate.

From 1943 to 1944, Mr. Ellis served with the Army Air Forces in the China-Burma-India Theater as the Assistant Staff Judge Advocate. In 1945, after more training in the legal department of the Army, he was sent to France and Germany with the Army War Crimes Branch. He assumed responsibility over all of the investigative teams operating in Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, Luxemburg, and the Netherlands. In 1946, Ellis became the Chief Trial Counsel for the Malmedy Massacre war crime case after the Battle of the Bulge.

Burton Ellis was then transferred to Dachau, Germany and commanded approximately 900 personnel in investigating and prosecuting over 1100 war crimes defendants. These trials were separate cases from those taking place in Nuremburg, Germany at the time. After the trials were concluded, Ellis was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco from 1948 until 1950. He supervised all Army legal activities in eight western states.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Ellis was deployed with the 2nd Infantry Division to Korea where he transferred to I Corps and supervised all legal activities including war crimes atrocities until 1953. Between 1953 and 1955, Burton and Dee Ellis lived in Washington D.C. where he represented defendants in courts-martial appeals. While there, he appealed more than 3000 cases. In 1955, he was transferred to Honolulu and became the Judge Advocate for all activities in Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Burton French Ellis retired from the service as a Colonel in November 1958. During his military career, he earned many decorations and awards including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, and the Korean Service medal.

After his retirement from the Army, Burton Ellis moved with his wife to Merced, California where he began a private legal practice. He was also a rancher, raising cattle with his brother Bill in Montana and almonds in acreage around the Merced area. He and Dee traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad, playing golf, fishing, and hunting. Dee passed away on May 26, 1998 at the age of 90 and Burton died on December 29, 2000 at the age of 97.

From the guide to the Papers, 1852-2000, (University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Military
  • War crime trials
  • Malmedy Massacre, 1944-1945
  • World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities
  • Photographs
  • War crimes trials--Germany--Dachau
  • Massacres
  • Dachau Trial, Dachau, Germany, 1946


  • Army prosecutors


  • Belgium (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)
  • Germany--Dachau (as recorded)
  • Germany (as recorded)