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  • Christina Drummond

Private George Edwin Ellison, 5th Battalion, the Royal Irish Lancers

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Private George Edwin Ellison, 5th Battalion, the Royal Irish Lancers, became the last officially recognized British soldier to die in the Great War.

He had been serving in the British army as a young man but left and in 1912 was known to have been working as a coal miner. In 1914 he was recalled and served throughout the Great War. He saw action at the Battles of Mons, Ypres, Armentieres, La Bassee, Lens, Loos, and Cambrai. Older than most of the men with whom he served, he was in the first trenches, suffered gas attacks, and saw the first tanks at the Front on the Somme.

Having returned to Mons during the last days of the war, he was working as a scout and carrying out reconnaissance work in the woods. Ninety minutes before 11:00 a.m. on the 11th of November, he was shot and killed by a sniper. His family did not learn of his death until just before Christmas. He is buried in the St Symphorien Military Cemetery, southeast of Mons, his grave facing that of Private John Parr, the first British soldier to be killed in the Great War. Had the Armistice been put into effect when it was signed several hours earlier, he might not have died.

George, from Leeds, was 40 years old and married with a four-year-old son.

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