Plaque unveiled to honour tragic First World War soldier from Leeds
THE Armistice came too late for George Edwin Ellison, the last British soldier killed in action during the First World War.
George, a 40-year-old husband and father from Richmond Hill in Leeds, was shot while on patrol on the outskirts of the Belgian town of Mons just 90 minutes before peace was declared in 1918.
And today (Nov 7) his home city paid moving tribute to his memory ahead of this weekend’s centenary of the signing of the Armistice.
A plaque honouring George and thousands of other local men who lost their lives in the Great War was unveiled in a touching and well-attended ceremony at Leeds City Station.
The ceremony, which included a minute’s silence and the laying of a wreath, was held in the station’s main concourse, with the plaque due to be put in place today in what will be its permanent home near the Queens Hotel on New Station Street.
George’s granddaughters Marie Lofthouse and Catherine Young were among a number of members of his family present yesterday.
Marie told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s absolutely lovely. This is not just for my grandfather but all the soldiers from Leeds.”
Also in attendance were representatives of the Royal Lancers, the latter-day version of George’s regiment, the 5th Royal Irish Lancers.
Sgt Major Philip Short, who had travelled down from Catterick for the ceremony, said: “It’s excellent that Leeds has done this, it means people can look at the plaque and remember.
“It’s a great honour to be here to represent the regiment and see so many old faces and young faces.”
Work on the project has been spearheaded by Leeds Civic Trust, which runs a blue plaque scheme celebrating important people, events and buildings from the city’s past.
In a break with tradition, it was decided that this particular plaque should be green, to match the uniforms worn by troops such as George.
The station site, meanwhile, was chosen as a way of remembering every soldier who left Leeds by train as they headed off to war.
Leeds Civic Trust director Martin Hamilton thanked all those who had supported a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the plaque, the idea for which was originally suggested by Beeston resident Ed Carlisle.
Martin said: “People have chipped in small amounts, large amounts, we’ve had local councillors contributing – the response has been brilliant.
“To have such a large crowd gathered for this ceremony on a busy morning in Leeds City Station tells me that people see remembering the First World War as an important thing to do.”