Private George Edwin Ellison, from Leeds, has the unenviable distinction of being the last person to die ‘in combat’ during the First World War.
He was shot at about 9.30am on November 11, some 90 minutes before the cease fire came into operation. But should never have died.
The Allies and Germany had signed the Armistice ending the war six hours earlier. They decided to delay its coming into effect until 11 am so that the message could be conveyed to troops at the front, a decision which cost Pte Ellison his life.
A member of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, the former miner was older than most of his companions, aged “about 40”. He was on a scouting mission on the outskirts of the town of Mons in Belgium, investigating a report of Germans seen in nearby woods when he was shot and killed. He left a widow, Hannah, and their four-year-old son James.
He is buried in at St Symphorien Military Cemetery, outside Mons. In 2008, his granddaughters, Catherine and Marie travelled to pay homage to him. It is understood he may even have been a Boer War veteran, considering his age.
His death in the final minutes of the conflict seems all the more senseless given the fact he had already endured four years in the trenches, starting off at Mons as a member of the British Expeditionary Force, retreating from there in August, 1914. He ended up back at Mons in 1918. He fought on the Somme in 1916 and saw the first tanks roll into battle.
His grave faces that of John Parr, the first British soldier killed during the Great War.