Book of First World War heroes goes on display in York Minster
Updated 10:24am Saturday 10th May 2014 in News
Britain’s biggest book of Great War remembrance has gone on show at York Minster – telling the story of the local man who was last British soldier to die at the front.
Although the Armistice was signed at 5am on November 11 1918, the ceasefire was delayed until 11am to give the news time to reach the trenches.
Thousands more would die over the next six hours, knowing that the fighting was supposed to be over.
George Edwin Ellison, 40, who was born in Skeldergate, York, survived four years of hell, including The Somme, without a scratch.
With little more than an hour to go before the guns were silenced, he was sent to check out reports of enemy movements around Mons.
A shot rang out and Mr Ellison, a British Army regular who may have served in the Boer War, became the last British soldier to die in action.
Instead of coming home for his son James’s fifth birthday, widow Hannah received a telegram at their home in Leeds.
Although Mr Ellison was the last killed in action, York recruits continued to perish from their wounds and the effects of gas into the 1920s.
Shaken by the toll, York Minster considered putting up a stone memorial but instead opted for a massive book listing the 1,445 men who died - and two women.
Bound in steel and oak, it runs to 91 pages, and weighs nine stone and 4lbs. Signed by George V, it became known as the King’s Book of York Heroes.
The York Press researched the stories of the fallen and – unusually for a book of remembrance – there are pictures of all but five of the entries.
The volume has gone on display in York Minster’s Treasury as the centrepiece to ‘They died that we might live’ - which tell the stories of those involved in the conflict.
Collections Manager Vicky Harrison said: “We hope the display will encourage visitors to learn about the story of York Minster and the First World War, which is one of courage, sacrifice and remembrance.”
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