Love Leeds: Tragic last victim of the Great War

Leeds soldier George Edwin Ellison.
Leeds soldier George Edwin Ellison.
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Leeds soldier George Edwin Ellison has gone down in history after a life that ended in selfless heroism and needless tragedy.

Private Ellison, 40, was the last British soldier to be killed in the First World War, shot on the outskirts of the Belgian town of Mons just 90 minutes before the Armistice that brought an end to the fighting.

A regular soldier rather than a conscript, he had survived the nightmarish conditions of the war to end all wars for four full years. He had started out at Mons as a member of the British Expeditionary Force, retreating from there in August 1914. He ended up back at Mons in 1918.

Speaking in 2008, military historian Paul Reed said: “During his four years at the front, George saw every type of warfare. He went into the first trenches as the war became deadlocked. He fought in the first gas attack, and on the Somme in 1916 watched the first ever tanks go up to the front.”

Pvt Ellison, who may also have been a Boer War veteran, left a widow, Hannah, and their four-year-old son, James.