Saturday, November 08, 2008

The First and Last to Die

John Parr and George Edwin Ellison are buried just seven yards apart in Saint Symphorien cemetery in Belgium.

Private Parr, 16, a bicycle scout, and Pte George Ellison, 40, of the Royal Irish Lancers, were, respectively, the first and the last British soldiers to die in combat in the First World War. Pte Parr was killed on 21 August, 1914, the day before the first rearguard action fought by the British Expeditionary Force near Mons on the Belgian-French border.

Pte Ellison was killed on the morning of 11 November, 1918, 90 minutes before the armistice which brought the industrial-strength slaughter of the first modern war to a close, 90 years ago next Tuesday. Both died within a couple of miles of the spot where they are buried. Their memorial stones face each other across a narrow strip of grass in a cemetery which contains more than 500 British, Irish, Canadian and German graves. [Link]

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