Aftermath - when the boys came home

Saturday 11 June 2011

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from Manchester Evening News 31 October 2001

Funeral for soldier — 87 years after his death in battle
by Caroline Cheetham

At RestTHE FAMILY of a soldier killed during the First World War spoke today of their relief that they were fmally able to lay him to rest.

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 Hainaut, Belgium.

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 World War."

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 year.

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.

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