George Edwin Ellison

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George E Ellison.jpg
Pte. George Edwin Ellison
Birth nameGeorge Edwin Ellison
Born10 August 1878
York, England
Died11 November 1918 (aged 40)
Mons, Belgium
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Years of service????–1912
Unit5th Royal Irish Lancers
Battles/warsFirst World War

George Edwin Ellison (10 August 1878 – 11 November 1918) was the last British soldier to be killed in action during the First World War. He died at 09:30 am (90 minutes before the armistice came into effect) while on a patrol on the outskirts of Mons, Belgium.


Ellison was born in York and later lived in Leeds, England. Early in life, he joined the British Army as a regular soldier but had left by 1912 when he was married to Hannah Maria Burgan and had become a coal miner. Sometime just before the outbreak of war he was recalled to the army, joining the 5th Royal Irish Lancers and serving in the army at the start of the war. He fought in the Battle of Mons in 1914, and several other battles including the Battle of Ypres, Battle of Armentières, Battle of La Bassée, Battle of Lens, Battle of Loos, and Battle of Cambrai on the Western Front.

Ellison, aged 40 at the time of his death, is buried in the St Symphorien Military Cemetery, just southeast of Mons.[1] Coincidentally, and in large part due to Mons being lost in the very opening stages of the war and regained at the very end (from the British perspective), his grave faces that of John Parr, the first British soldier killed during the Great War.[2][3] He was survived by Hannah and a son, James Cornelius (just five days short of his fifth birthday when his father was killed) – who only learnt of his death just before Christmas, more than a month after the war had ended. At least two of his grandchildren were alive as of 2008.[4] Ellison's story was featured in a 2008 BBC Timewatch documentary with Michael Palin.[4] In 2018, he was the inspiration behind a poem, "Goodnight Kiss", by writer Philip Parker.[5] Leeds Civic Trust and partners are to unveil a memorial plaque to him at Leeds Central railway station in November 2018 and, as of September 2018, were running a crowd-funder campaign to that end.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Casualty Details: Ellison, George Edwin". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  2. ^ Lichfield, John (8 November 2008). "Two soldiers linked in death by a bizarre coincidence". The Independent. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  3. ^ Palin, Michael (1 November 2008). "The last day of World War One". Timewatch. BBC. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b Palin, Michael (29 October 2008). "The grandfather we never knew". Timewatch. BBC. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  5. ^ Parker, Philip. "Goodnight Kiss". Imperial War Museum, "Armistice 100 Days". Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  6. ^ "George Edwin Ellison—Plaque Appeal". Leeds Civic Trust. 27 September 2018. Retrieved 7 November 2018.

Further reading[edit]