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Remembered Today:

Burial of Pte Joe Stevenson + Two Unknowns


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21 June 2023

Three Great War British soldiers buried in France


(Photo: Thomas Capiaux)

More than a century after his death, Private (Pte) Joe Stevenson, a 34-year-old soldier from Framlingham in Suffolk, has finally been laid to rest with full military honours alongside an unknown soldier from his regiment and another unknown British soldier.

The 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) Brown’s Copse Cemetery, Roeux, France on 21 June, 2023). 

Their unidentified remains were discovered after construction work in 2018 in the village of Fampoux, France. Along with the remains, they discovered various regimental insignia of the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment and a partial ID tag bearing the name “Stevens…”.



Artefacts recovered with the casualties that helped with research and identification. Kingsman Cumming, 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment lays a wreath at the service. (Photos: Crown Copyright)

JCCC research and DNA testing idetified one set of remains as Pte Stevenson: reported missing on 10 April, 1917 at the beginning of the Battle of Arras. With no remains recovered at the time of his death, he was commemorated on the Arras Memorial. Despite extensive additional testing, the other two men were not able to be identified so have been buried as unknown soldiers, one of them being linked to the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.

Nicola Nash, JCCC case lead said:
“Although it was disappointing to not name all three men, we are thrilled to finally lay Pte Stevenson to rest. The Battle of Arras is best known for the action at Vimy Ridge. But just a few miles down the line, during the British capture of the village of Fampoux, Pte Stevenson and these two unknown soldiers tragically lost their lives. Today, we honour their sacrifice and pay tribute to their memory”.

Members of the 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment travelled from Cyprus to lay their comrades to rest.

Kingsman Cumming, 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment said:
“It was an honour to take part in this burial. Seeing the huge numbers that died was very humbling. This will stand out as one of the highlights of my career.”

The service was conducted by the Reverend Paul Van Sittert, 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

The Reverend Van Sittert said:
“It has been a humbling experience for all of us that have been part of these burial services remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. For me, it has been an incredible privilege and honour to have played a part. So many have paid the ultimate price, named and unnamed, yet their sacrifice will not be forgotten. We will remember them.”

The graves of Pte Stevenson and the two unknown soldiers will now be cared for in perpetuity by the CWGC.

Head of Commemorations Casework at the CWGC, Mel Donnelly, said:
“It is our privilege to be part of this journey in identifying Pte Stevenson, to learn more about his story and the sacrifice he made during the First World War. Although it has not been possible to identify two of his comrades, we will care for their graves with the dedication and respect they deserve, at Brown’s Copse Cemetery.”



Members of the 1st Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment at the burial ceremony. (Photo: Crown Copyright)

Pte Joe Stevenson

Private (Pte) Stevenson was born in Framlingham, Suffolk on 14 November 1882. He was the son of James and Rachel Stevenson. He had two brothers and four sisters. He was working as a labourer when he enlisted in April 1916. Pte Stevenson was initially posted to the 9th Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment. Five months later he transferred to the 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.

The Battle of Arras was part of the wider Nivelle Offensive, a plan masterminded by French General Robert Nivelle, which aimed to break the deadlock on the Western Front in 1917. The French Army launched an attack a few days later near the River Aisne.

The preliminary bombardment at the Battle of Arras saw German positions pulverised by more than 2.5 million shells, about 1 million more that at the Somme. When troops attacked, they were supported by a creeping barrage. Artillery support was more effective at Arras than at the Somme thanks in part to improvements in training and scheduling, and the new 106 fuse, which made high explosive shells more reliable.

On the first day of the Battle of Arras, the Canadian Corps made up the bulk of the force that attacked Vimy Ridge. It was the first time that all four divisions of the Corps had fought together and the battle holds a special place in Canadian history. The opening days of the battle saw significant gains. The British attack south of Vimy Ridge advanced up to 3.5 miles – further than any attack since the end of 1914. At Bullecourt however, the German defence held firm. German reinforcements then began to arrive in significant numbers and the battle descended into a familiar attritional struggle that was finally called off on 16 May.

The 1st Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment took the village of Fampoux, along with 12th Brigade on the 9 – 10 April 1917. Pte Stevenson was killed, along with the two unknwon soldiers during this action.


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RIP lads. :poppy::poppy::poppy:


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