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Tragic Leeds soldier gave his life as peace beckoned

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He was among the last fallen heroes of the Great War, giving his life for king and country just 90 minutes before peace broke out.

Now Leeds soldier Private George Ellison - believed to be the last British and Commonwealth casualty of the First World War - is set to receive a special tribute to his sacrifice.

The first and last casualties of the Western Front will be commemorated in a special service in 2014, marking 100 years since the start of the First World War. Pte Ellison will be among those to be remembered in the twilight ceremony to be held at St Symphorien military cemetery in Mons, Belgium, on August 4.

Pte Ellison’s grave lies in the quiet woodland cemetery built by the German army in August 1914.

A member of the Royal Irish Lancers, he was killed just an hour-and-a-half before the Armistice on November 11, 1918. He had joined the army as a regular soldier before the war broke out, but left by 1912, when he got married and became a coal miner. He returned to fight in several battles including Ypres, Armentieres, Cambrai and the Battle of Mons in 1914. He was survived by wife Hannah and son James Cornelius, who was just five days from his fifth birthday when his father died.

Head gardener Daniel Dendooven, who looks after the cemetery at Mons, said the site remains less well-known than others. “A lot of British people know about Passchendaele and Tyne Cot, but not so many seem to know about Mons, which is where it all started and finished,” he said. “But a lot of people say it’s one of the most special cemeteries. There is something about it.”

 

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