A YORK-born man who was the last British soldier to lose his life in the First World War has featured in a special writers’ project in the run-up to the Armistice centenary.

Writer Philip Parker has written 100 words about Private George Ellison for Armistice 100 Days, a collaboration between a writers’ group and Imperial War Museums, which involves 100 writers each writing exactly 100 words on a participant of the war.

One per day is being published in the 100-day countdown to the Armistice anniversary on November 11.

Philip said Pt Ellison was born in York in 1878 and was already an ‘Old Sweat’ by the war’s outbreak, having been recalled to the army in 1914, aged 34.

“He would have experienced the bloody industrialisation of the conflict ...the first trenches, the first gas attack, the first tank assault,” he said.

After more than four years’ service, his regiment was ordered to take Mons on November 11, 1918. “Ellison was scouting in woods on horseback when he was shot and killed by a sniper. It was 9.30am, an hour and a half before the Armistice.

“Ellison is the last British soldier to be killed in battle. He was buried in the tranquil military cemetery at St Symphorien, close to Mons, alongside 228 other Commonwealth and 284 German soldiers.”

Almost exactly opposite his resting place was the grave of Pt John Parr, the first British soldier to be killed in action in the war, aged 17.

“I was struck by the poignancy of these men’s stories and the staggering coincidence - and fate - that they are buried less than 15ft apart, yet separated by a gulf of over four years and the lives of almost 10 million of the armed forces of all nations, and millions of civilians,” he said.

“They become symbolic due to their status as first and last killed; yet one was a boy, the other battle-hardened and old enough to be his father.

“I meditated on this closeness and this separation. I have told the story of Ellison in Parr’s voice, who has been waiting for him in the Belgian earth. Pear Drops’ is slang for poison gas. A ‘Goodnight Kiss’ is the final bullet from a sniper at the end of an assault.”

Goodnight Kiss

'FIVE strides apart, five summers past, I saluted you and the old sweats riding to War.

I fell first. And waited: while you mined the frozen mud. Ducked into crump holes.

Pinched lice from your seams. Felt the pear drops’ sting at Wipers. You drink Hannah’s words from home; Jimmy’s walking now.

Then you’re following the tank tracks from Cambrai. The chase draws you to Mons, where your War began.

In the woods on the eleventh day, a goodnight kiss. Ninety minutes to Armistice. My wait ends.

First and last in a bunker for pals, we lie five strides apart.'