George Ellison: The Last Man killed in WW1

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George Edwin Ellison (1878-1918) was just one of around 11,000 casualties, dead and wounded, struck down on 11th November 1918 - the last day of WW1.  But George is identified by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as the last British soldier to be killed in military action in France before the Armistice came into effect at 11am on 11th November 1918.

 In November 1918 Ellison was at Mons, a Private in the Household Cavalry of the Line, his battalion being the Corps of Lancers 5th Lancers (Royal Irish), Regimental number L/12643).  George had been a serving soldier from before the beginning of the war in August 1914 until the day it ended.  He should never have been killed.

The actual Armistice agreement was signed at 5.10am on 11th November 1918.  It was agreed that its implementation would be delayed for 6 hours to allow news to travel to the front lines.  It was a decision that would cost Private Ellison his life.

George Ellison was killed at 9.30am - 4 hours 20 mins after the armistice document was signed, and just 90 minutes before the ceasefire came into effect at 11am.  He was on a scouting mission on the outskirts of the town of Mons in Belgium, investigating reports of Germans being seen in nearby woods, when he was shot.  He is buried in the Saint Symphorien Military Cemetery.

George Edwin Ellison was born in Leeds (49 Edmund Street, Bank, Leeds) on 10th August 1878 (9d 27).  The family appear to have moved around quite a bit, and by the time of the 1891 census his father, James, worked in the confectionary trade and in the 1891 census he is listed as a sugar boiler living in Hull.

Indeed the family as a whole appear to have moved around quite a bit, and by the time of the 1901 census, George, was working as a barman in West Hartlepool.  By 1911, now aged 32, and still single, George was back in Leeds living with his mother at 14 Kipper Terrace, Long Close Lane in Leeds; he is listed as a coal miner (Hewer).

And it may have been in connection with coal mining that he moved again to his next recorded location - Nottinghamshire.

It was in the following year, in the 4th qtr of 1912 (Oct, Nov, Dec) married Hannah Burgan at Nottingham (7b 907).

The following year the birth of a son, James Cornelius Ellison, was also registered in Nottingham (7b 712). (James' birth date is given as 16 Nov 1913 on his father's entry in the UK Army register of Soldiers' effects 1901-1929).           

With the outbreak of the First World War George was, (according to the National Roll of the Great War 1914-1918 - see below) already serving in the army.  This is evidenced also by his Regimental Number - L/12643 - which is consistent with others who enlisted prior to 1914.

Whilst his WW1 Service Records apparently do not survive, his Medal Rolls Index card for WW1 shows that he entered the theatre of war on 26 August 1914 - just about 3 weeks after Britain had declared war on Germany.

He served throughout the remainder of the war, witnessing virtually all aspects of conflict on the Western Front, and, no doubt, all the horrors as well.

He started out at Mons in August 1914 fighting with the British Expeditionary Force during the retreat from Mons.  He spent time in the trenches as the war became deadlocked; he fought in the first gas attack, and in 1916 watched the first ever tanks deployed at the Somme.  He returned to Mons in 1918 where he met his death.

 In 1920 (April, May, June) George's wife, Hannah re-married in Leeds to a William Gray (9b 1328)



George Ellison's entry in the National Roll of Honour of the Great War reads:-

Already serving at the outbreak of war, he at once proceeded to France and fought in the Retreat from Mons.  He also played a prominent part in engagements at Ypres, Armentieres, La Bassee, Lens, Loos and Cambrai, but was unhappily killed only an hour and a half before the Armistice came into force.  He is buries at St.Jean and was entitled to the Mons Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.  "The path of duty was the way to glory.  49 Edmund Street, off York Street, Leeds



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