On Tuesday 5th November, on what was the Western Front just over a century ago, a soldier of The Essex Regiment and an unknown soldier of an unknown regiment, who were killed during the Great War, were finally laid to rest with full military honours…
The ceremony took place at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) New Irish Farm Cemetery, near Ypres, Belgium and was conducted by the Reverend Paul Whitehead CF, Chaplain to 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment. The service was organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), also known as the ‘MOD War Detectives’.
Rosie Barron, JCCC said: “This burial service has been especially poignant as we build up to Remembrance Sunday. Although it has not been possible to identify them, these two men have now been laid to rest alongside their comrades. Today we remember their sacrifices and the loved ones they left behind who mourned for them.”
The Reverend Whitehead said: “Although we do not know these young men’s names, every person is created in God’s image. It is a fitting tribute to pray and personally commit them into the hands of our heavenly Father who has always known them intimately by name.”
The remains of these two soldiers were found alongside twenty-one others during ground work at an industrial development just north of Ypres. The location, thought to be the original Irish Farm Cemetery, is an original wartime cemetery created by 1st Battalion The Royal Fusiliers. It was believed that all those buried there had been transferred to the New Irish Farm Cemetery after the war.
The burial service was supported by current soldiers of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment who supplied a bearer party and a firing party for the ceremony. The graves will now be marked by headstones provided by the CWGC, who will care for their final resting place in perpetuity.
Geert Bekaert, CWGC Central European Area Director said: “Although it has not been possible to identify these casualties by name, we are honoured to lay them to rest with respect and dignity alongside their comrades. We proudly mark their graves, ensuring that their service and sacrifice will not be forgotten. The Commission will care for them, together with all of those who served and fell.”