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Remembered Today:

Burial of Unknown RFA Soldier: Guards' Cemetery, Lesboeufs


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News story

Soldier killed on the Somme buried more than 100 years after his death

More than a century after his death, a soldier of The Royal Field Artillery, has been laid to rest on the Somme alongside his comrades.

Ministry of Defence and Veterans UK
21 June 2023

The bearer party from 14th Regiment Royal Artillery fold the Union Flag which covered the coffin. (Crown Copyright)

The burial service, organised by the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), also known as the ‘MOD War Detectives’, was held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Guards’ Cemetery, Lesboeufs, in France on 20 June 2023.

The remains were recovered north of the village of Ginchy during preliminary work on a wind turbine project. A shoulder title of The Royal Field Artillery was found with the body, indicating he probably belonged to that regiment. Created in 1899, The Royal Field Artillery was an arm of The Royal Regiment of Artillery and was disbanded shortly after the First World War in 1924.

Research by JCCC to identify him showed he was most likely with 20th (Light) Divisional Artillery, which was located in ‘Toc 7 Valley’, the area where the remains were discovered, from 25 September until November 1916.

DNA testing was carried out by the descendants of the division’s Gunners missing from during this period. However, as yet, no match has been found. He remains one of over 72,000 soldiers missing on the Somme who are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Rosie Barron, JCCC case lead said:

It has been a privilege to work with The Royal Regiment of Artillery, to organise this burial service and to see the care and attention that serving Gunners have shown this soldier. He may have died 107 years ago, but he is one of their own. We haven’t yet been able to name this soldier, but it is important he has been given the respect of a full military burial. He now rests alongside his comrades.

Wartime conditions in the valley were bleak, with the Gunners continuously exposed to the elements and enemy artillery fire. The guns were crowded together, with men living in slits in the ground with a sheet of corrugated iron over the top and water at the bottom. Resupplying was difficult and ammunition had to be brought up to the line at night over an exposed ridge east of Delville Wood.

He was carried to his final resting place by serving soldiers of 14th Regiment Royal Artillery who are based at Lark Hill Garrison, in Salisbury, Wiltshire. The service was conducted by the Reverend Roger Grafton CF, Chaplain to 14th Regiment Royal Artillery.


The coffin was carried to the graveside by serving soldiers of 14th Regiment Royal Artillery. (Crown Copyright)

The Reverend Grafton said:

As a military historian and a battlefield guide, I often take groups to visit CWGC cemeteries to talk about the vast numbers of casualties that occur as the result of modern war.  But this is different. This is one soldier we are laying to rest today. One man: a man with family and friends: a man with loved ones who never knew where he lay; one man who once had work colleagues, comrades and brothers in arms. It is an enormous honour and privilege to be asked to preside at this funeral for a member of the Gunner family. But it also a humbling experience to act as the officiating Padre for this individual known only unto God.

The soldier was one of several casualties uncovered in the area which saw heavy fighting during the Battle of the Somme in September 1916. The other casualties, all belonging to different regiments, have already been buried at Guards’ Cemetery, Lesboeufs, or at Guillemont Road Cemetery a short distance away.

The grave will now be cared for by the CWGC. Head of Commemorations Casework at the CWGC, Mel Donnelly, said:

Today this soldier from The Royal Field Artillery, unknown but never forgotten, can be laid to rest alongside his comrades who fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Marking this brave man’s sacrifice with a new headstone, we will care his grave at Guards Cemetery in Lesboeufs in perpetuity.


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Thank you for posting this.  May he rest in peace:poppy:


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RIP :poppy:


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