from Manchester Evening News 31 October 2001
Funeral for soldier — 87 years after his death in
by Caroline Cheetham
THE FAMILY of a soldier killed during the First
World War spoke today of their relief that they were fmally able to lay him to
Private 9950 Harry Wilkinson, from Bury, a 2nd
Battalion Lancashire Pusher, was killed in action on November 10, 1914, in a
field in Belgium.
But his remains — with his identity tag and his
Lancashire Fusiiers cap badge — were found only in January last year in a field
at Ploegsteert Wood.
He was one of the 55,000 British and Commonwealth
soldiers kified at Ypres during the First World War whose bodies were either
missing for years, or never found.
He was identified after the Manchester Evening News
tracked down his relatives in Bury. He had worked in the town as a mill fireman
until joining up.
Today, the remains of 29-year-old Pte Wilkinson
were being buried with full military honours at
Prowse Point Cemetery, in
Before the ceremony, his great-grandaughter Annette
Wilkinson, 51, from Shrewsbury, said: "I will be happy when it is over with
because he has waited a long time for a burial. It will be nice to put him to
rest. All I knew was that he had been lost in the war."
Her nine-year-old son Jay, Pte Wilkinson’s
great-great-grandson, said: "I am excited about it. He was a hero from the First
Grandaughter June Brammer, 59, from Luton, was also
at the burial, which was being attended by the Duke of Kent.
Pte Wilkinson’s remains were found by local man
Patrick Roelens, 39, in the freshly ploughed field in January last
He said: "I was just looking at the fields and then
I saw an identity tag and some bones of a hand."
The burial coincides with a ceremony later today to
mark the 25,000th sounding of the Last Post at Menin Gate in Ypres, which was
being attended by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Phillipe of Belgium. As part
of the commemoration, a different soldier, sailor or airman killed during the
First World War wifi be honoured each day for a year, starting with Pte
Wilkinson at 8pm today.