George Edwin Ellison – Plaque Appeal
George Edwin Ellison was a husband, father and miner. Born in 1878, Ellison went on to marry Hannah Burgan in 1912. They had one son, James, and subsequently made 49 Edmund Street, Leeds their home.
Ellison had been a British soldier long before the Great War, but left service in 1912 in order to be closer to home for his wife and son. While living at home in Leeds he became a coal miner. Upon outbreak of war, he signed up early and was part of the Expeditionary Force. He joined the 5th Royal Irish Lancers and fought in the earliest battles of the war after arriving in France on 26th August, 1914. He fought at the infamous Battle of Ypres, where the Allies lost over 50,000 men, and at the Western Front, the main theatre of war during WWI. Ellison is also known to have fought at Lens, Loos and Cambrai in the first two years of the war.
Ellison survived four long years of conflict, during which an estimated 6 million Allied soldiers were killed. However, on the final day of the war Ellison was tragically killed whilst on patrol in Mons, Belgium just 90 minutes before the armistice came into effect. He is recognised as the last known British soldier to be killed during The Great War. Even more tragic is the retrospective knowledge that the armistice had been signed hours before Ellison was shot (around 5am on the morning of the 11th November), it had just yet to come into effect when Ellison was shot dead at 9.30am. Nearly 3,000 men lost their lives in the hours between the signing of the armistice and the eventual 11am ceasefire, Ellison the last of them to have been from Britain.
At his grave in Mons at the St. Symphorien Military Cemetary, Ellison is stated to be aged 40. An incredible coincidence was later discovered that Ellison’s grave is positioned opposite the grave of John Parr, who was the first British soldier to be killed during the war. This site has since become a symbolic place to recognise the British war effort, particularly in Belgium which was such a key battleground at both the beginning and end of the Great War.
In this anniversary year, and to commemorate the sacrifice George Ellison and other thousands made between 1914-1918, Leeds Civic Trust are proud to be working with the Yorkshire Evening Post and campaign lead, Ed Carlisle, to place a plaque at the Leeds Central Railway Station this November.
There is an opportunity to donate towards the cost of the plaque. Once the costs are reached, any additional funding will be donated to a charity, who support the survivors of conflict.
To donate, please visit our ‘gofundme’ page.