May honours first and last dead, united in a foreign field
GEORGE ELLISON had only to get to 11am on Nov 11 1918 to survive the carnage that claimed millions over the course of the First World War. But he was shot and killed by a German sniper just 90 minutes before the Armistice bringing peace between the warring sides came into effect.
The 40-year-old Yorkshireman was the last British soldier to be killed in the conflict and next week the Prime Minister will lay a wreath at his grave at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons, Belgium, as part of a series of events marking 100 years since the end of the war.
At the same ceremony she will lay a wreath at the grave of north Londoner John Parr, 17, the first British soldier to be killed at the outbreak of war, in 1914, when his patrol encountered a German cavalry detachment. By coincidence, the two soldiers are buried opposite each other.
Later, Theresa May will join Emmanuel Macron, the French president, in laying a special wreath at the Thiepval Memorial in France, which bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and troops who died in the Battle of the Somme. The two leaders will jointly lay a wreath combining poppies and le bleuet, the two national emblems of remembrance for Britain and France.
On Sunday the Prime Minister will attend the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph, where, for the first time, a German leader, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will also lay a wreath in a historic act of reconciliation.