Two burial services have taken place on the Western Front honouring four unknown Irish soldiers who fell during the First World War…

The first service took place at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Messines Ridge British Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium on Tuesday 19th March with a second burial taking place on Wednesday 20th March at Guillemont Road Cemetery, on the Somme in France.

The services, organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), were conducted by the Reverend Nathan King CF, Chaplain to 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment. The bearer party at each service was composed of members of 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Royal Irish Regiment.

Despite extensive research, it was not possible for the JCCC to identify any of these soldiers due to the high numbers of casualties in both areas.

Rosie Barron, JCCC said: “It has been a privilege to organise these two services and to work with The Royal Irish Regiment to ensure these Irish soldiers have had the burial they deserve. Although their identities remain unknown, they are now at rest alongside their comrades and their sacrifices will not be forgotten.”

The first service saw a soldier of The Royal Irish Rifles and an unknown soldier of an unknown regiment, laid to rest at Messines Ridge British Cemetery. The remains of these two soldiers had been discovered south west of the town of Wijtschate. Research, conducted by JCCC, shows they were most likely killed in either June 1917, during the Battle of Messines or in April 1918, during the Battle of the Lys.

A second burial service took place for a soldier of The Connaught Rangers and an unknown soldier of an unknown regiment at Guillemont Road Cemetery. The remains of these two soldiers had been uncovered during work on a wind turbine project near the village of Guillemont. They are believed to have been killed in September 1916.