The parade on the Grand' Place, Mons, commemorating the city's liberation by Canadian troops on 10-11 November 1918 (Photo: Centenary News)

A day of solemn ceremony - as global events close the WW1 Centenary & Mons again pays tribute to the ‘first and the last’

Date of Event: 11 November 2018
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After more than four years of commemorations, the First World War Centenary came to an end on November 11 with international tributes and pleas to work for peace on the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice.

Ceremonies took place in Canberra, London, Paris, Wellington, Washington DC, Ypres, and across the battlefields of Arras and Artois, and in many other towns and cities.

President Macron addressed more than 70 heads of state and government gathered at the Arc de Triomphe for the Centenary Armistice Day tribute. The French leader warned of 'old demons resurfacing', and history repeating itself, compromising the legacy of peace. 

Germany's President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, was in London for the traditional Remembrance Sunday service in Whitehall, led by members of the Royal Family, becoming the first German head-of-state to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.

But we turn first to Mons, from where Centenary News reported  in August 2014, and whose particular experience of the Great War put it once more in the forefront of events at the close of the WW1 Centenary.

The Belgian city is the last resting place for the first and the last British soldiers killed in action in 1914-18, and also the Canadian George Price, who was the very last Commonwealth servicemen to fall, moments before the  ceasefire started a century ago.

The Last Post is sounded at St Symphorien Cemetery (Photo: Centenary News)

All three men lie in CWGC St Symphorien Military Cemetery. They were honoured at a Canadian-led service, attended by the country’s Governor-General, Julie Payette, opening a weekend of remembrance on Saturday November 10.

John Parr was killed on 21 August 1914, shortly before the British Expeditionary Force fought its first Western Front battle with the German Army at Mons. 

George Ellison, who died less than two hours before the Armistice came into effect on 11 November 1918, is buried opposite. 

And just a short distance away is George Price's grave.  He was shot by a sniper, at 10.58am, two minutes before the ceasefire started.

In a second ceremony on Saturday, a new memorial dedicated to George Price was inaugurated where he died, at Ville-sur-Haine on the outskirts of Mons.

The service was held in the presence of Princess Astrid of Belgium, and tributes were again led by the Governor-General of Canada.

And on the centenary Armistice Day itself, Prince Laurent of Belgium attended a big parade in the Grand’ Place at Mons,  commemorating the entry of Canadian troops into the city 100 years ago, in the early hours of 11 November 1918.

The Hotel de Ville (town hall) also provided the backdrop for a spectacular son-et-lumière show in the Grand' Place, telling the story of the First Battle of Mons, the German occupation, the city's liberation and the death of George Price.

We’ll be bringing you updates on these and other events.

Posted by CN Editorial Team, reporting from Mons

Images: Centenary News

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