The grave of Private George Edwin Ellison in the St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium. George Ellison was from Leeds and served throughout the First World War. Tragically, however, he was killed in Mons on the morning of the Armistice (11 November 1918) and it is said that he was the last British soldier to die in the conflict. In a twist of fate, he lies buried opposite the first British soldier to die on the Western Front, Private John Parr.
Mons was the site of the first British battle of the War which took place on 23 August 1914. I visited the cemetery 100 years to the day later to lay this wreath at George Ellison’s grave. The town was full of visitors from the UK: family members looking for where their loved ones fought and, in all too many cases, their last resting place; representatives of the regiments that saw action there; and Royal British Legion branches.
It was a very moving day. There was a service in the beautiful cemetery, which is magnificently looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. And as the sun went down, the Grand Place – bedecked with British and Belgian flags – hosted a concert by two Scottish pipe bands and the band of the Regimental Association in front of large crowds.
This post was written by Hilary Benn (MP for Leeds Central) using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.