A HISTORIAN has called for a Benfleet soldier who died in the First World War to have a road named after him.
Sapper Stanley Ellison, 21, of the Royal Engineers, was the first man from the town to fall.
He died on the second day of British fighting – August 23, 1914 at the Battle of Mons.
However, it was not known what happened to him for another 14 months. He was simply registered as missing until a comrade contacted his family to tell them what happened.
Len Hawkins, 68, of Benfleet, was given letters sent between Sapper Ellison and his mother, Alice Ellison, by his sister Hilda when she passed away in the 1980s.
He nowwants a road in the town to be named after Sapper Ellison to mark the 100th anniversary of the war.
He said: “There was no one else in the family and they would have just been thrown out with the rubbish otherwise. Some of the letters are very moving.
“His mother’s last letter was returned to her stamped ‘missing’ and that was how she knew.
“They wrote to the International Red Cross, but there were so many missing it was a minefield to get anywhere.
“He was found a year later when the family got a letter from companion Sapper Hargreaves, who was himself badly wounded when his friend was killed.
“I am trying to see if we could have a road in Benfleet named after Sapper Ellison. I think we had more than 30 from Benfleet die in the First World War and as he was the first one, it would be a fitting tribute.”
David Marchant, Castle Point Council’s chief executive, said they thought it was a good suggestion and the council would look into naming a street after the soldier.
Sapper Ellison was called into action at Nimy, near Mons, Belgium, on August 23, 1914 as a cyclist signaller.
The Royal Engineers had been ordered to sink all barges in the Mons canal and to prepare bridges for demolition to stop the Germans advancing on the British Expeditionary Force.
However, at 10am Sapper Ellison was shot through the head – dying instantly.
He was buried by the Germans at Hautage Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Mr Hawkins has also invited local schools to get in touch if they would like to teach more about Sapper Ellison’s role in the First World War during the 100th anniversary.
He has promised to keep all the documents in his possession to make sure he is not forgotten.
Mr Hawkins said: “I made a promise to Hilda that on the 100th anniversary I would go to his cemetery and lay flowers in her brother’s memory.”
Contact Mr Hawkins through the Echo on 01268 469379.