Rallying cry for people of Leeds to help honour First World War hero George Edwin Ellison

His story sums up the selfless heroism and needless tragedy of the First World War.

Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 9:05 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 2:28 pm

George Edwin Ellison was the husband and father from Leeds who has gone down in history as the last British soldier to be killed in action during the war.

The 40-year-old was shot on the outskirts of the Belgian town of Mons in November 1918, just 90 minutes before the Armistice brought an end to the fighting.

And now, 100 years on, George is to be recognised with a plaque as part of his home city’s efforts to commemorate the centenary of the signing of the Armistice.

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The tribute was announced today by Leeds Civic Trust, which is aiming to cover the £2,000 cost of the plaque and an accompanying booklet with a public crowdfunding campaign.

The plaque will be unveiled on a yet-to-be confirmed date next month at Leeds City Station, with the location being chosen as a way of also remembering the thousands of other men who lost their lives after heading off by train to serve their country between 1914 and 1918.

Previous plaques put in place around the city have been blue but this one will be green in colour to match the uniforms worn by George and his fellow soldiers.

Martin Hamilton, director of Leeds Civic Trust, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “This special plaque will remember all of those from Leeds who served in World War One by remembering one life – that of father and husband George Ellison.”


He added: “Before we finalise arrangements, we are keen to make contact with any surviving relatives to ensure that they are involved in this commemoration, and would ask them to contact Leeds Civic Trust as soon as possible.”

George, who came from Richmond Hill, is buried in the St Symphorien Military Cemetery near Mons.

His grave faces that of John Parr, who was the first British solider killed in the Great War.

A miner by trade, George left a widow, Hannah, and a four-year-old son, James.

Ed Carlisle, a resident in Beeston and one of the driving forces behind the plaque project, said: “War is such a distant reality for many of us nowadays, but of course the world wars hugely impacted large numbers of regular people in our city.

“We’re hoping, through this project, to capture a sense of that – and also of the everyday tragedy it became for thousands of families.

“Many thanks to all those who have supported the project, and to all those able to donate to it via the crowdfunding campaign.”

Established in 1987, Leeds Civic Trust’s blue plaque scheme celebrates important people, events and buildings from the city’s past.

To support the fundraising, visit the www.gofundme.com website and search for ‘George Ellison’.

A link to the donations page can also be found on the Leeds Civic Trust website.

Any money left over after the plaque purchase and other outgoings will be given to a charity helping people affected by wars across the world.