The rededication service for Sapper Barnden, attended by members of 35 Engineer Regiment (Picture: Crown copyright). 
WWI

Unknown graves of WW1 soldiers rededicated with military honours

MOD war detectives worked with researchers to identify three victims of the Great War.

The rededication service for Sapper Barnden, attended by members of 35 Engineer Regiment (Picture: Crown copyright). 

The graves of three soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War have been rededicated during a service in Belgium.

The final resting places of Sapper Stanley Evelyn Barnden, Lance Corporal Owen James Munday, and Private Leonard George Holiday were marked as unknown for more than 100 years. 

However, thanks to research by the Ministry of Defence's Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), National Army Museum and a local Belgian student with a passion for WW1 history, the graves have been identified and rededicated with the names of the fallen men.

The services, which took place on Tuesday, were attended by serving soldiers from the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, 35 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, and veterans from the Hampshire Regiment Association. 

Spr Barnden was born in Walton-le-Soken, Essex, and served with 17th Field Company Royal Engineers, joining before the war as a regular soldier.

He was sent to the Western Front as part of the British Expeditionary Force and, as fighting on the Western Front reached a stalemate and both sides dug in, Spr Barnden's section was tasked with constructing dugouts in the firing line. 

Spr Stanley Barnden, 25, was killed by falling debris when the dugout he was working in collapsed (Picture: The Barnden family).

He was killed on 12 December 1914 by falling debris when the dugout he was working in collapsed. He was 25 years old. 

His remains were buried in Kandahar Farm Cemetery, but the marker over his grave was damaged during the war, and his name was lost. He was recorded as missing and commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

LCpl Munday and Pte Holiday died four years into the war, just weeks before the cessation of hostilities. The men had served with 15th (Hampshire Yeomanry) Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment. 

LCpl Munday was 26 when he was killed on 22 October 1918 during fighting to the east of Kortrijk, Belgium. Pte Holiday was killed four days later during this same advance eastward, aged just 19.

Both men were recorded as missing and commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

All three services were conducted by the Reverend Nick Sharpe and were attended by serving members of the Armed Forces (Picture: Crown copyright).

The graves of all three men were identified after researchers submitted evidence suggesting that their graves had been located. 

After further research, it was confirmed as part of the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) JCCC's adjudication process that these men had, in fact, been found. 

The evidence concerning the graves of LCpl Munday and Pte Holiday was initially submitted by Michiel Vanmarcke, a local Belgian student. 

Mr Vanmarcke attended the services and said he was "deeply honoured to have contributed" to the identifications of the three graves. 

The services for the fallen men were led by the Reverend Nick Sharpe CF, Chaplain to 4th Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, who said it was a "privilege and honour."