Poignant tributes to First World War’s landmark victims

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The first and last casualties of the Western Front will be commemorated in a special service next year, marking 100 years since the start of the First World War.

The twilight ceremony will be held at St Symphorien military cemetery in Mons, Belgium, on August 4 and will see honours for Private George Ellison, from Leeds, who is thought to have been the last Commonwealth casualty of the conflict.

The little-known cemetery, which was established by the German army in August 1914 as a last rsting place for the remains of both British and German soldiers 
killed at the Battle of Mons, 
contains headstones for casualties including what are thought to have been the first and last 
British casualties of the Great 
War.

In the quiet woodland cemetery lies the grave of Pte Ellison, of the Royal Irish Lancers, who was killed just an hour-and-a-half before the Armistice on November 11 1918.

Originally from Leeds, he had joined the Army as a regular soldier before the war broke out, but left by 1912 when he married and became a coal miner. Just before the outbreak of war he was recalled, joining the 5th Royal Irish Lancers.

He fought in the Battle of Mons in 1914 and several other conflicts, including the battles of Ypres, Armentieres, and Cambrai.

He was survived by his wife, Hannah and a son, James Cornelius, who was just five days away from his fifth birthday when his father died.

Also buried at the cemetery is Lieutenant Maurice Dease VC, from the 4th Battalion the Royal Fusiliers, who died on August 23 1914, aged 24. Lt Dease, who was born in County Westmeath, Ireland, was one of the first British officer battle casualties.