Finally At Rest: WWI Soldier Given Military Burial 100 Years After His Death

Pte Thomas Telford Edmundson died on the ground on 26 April 1915, and has since remained in a shallow grave in a field near the town of...

A soldier who fought in the Great War has been laid to rest more than 100 years after his death.

Private Thomas Telford Edmundson died on the ground on 26 April 1915, and has since remained in a shallow grave in a field near the town of Zonnebeke, Belgium.

It was thanks to the discovery of First World War artefacts in the area in 2014 thas his body was found.

Extensive research was undertaken by the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to identify the remains.

This included testing forensic samples, recovering a single Durham shoulder title and compiling the genealogy of all eight potential candidates.

It was a positive match with Pte Edmunson's second cousin once removed that confirmed the identification.

The soldier has finally been given full military honours at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Perth (China Wall) Cemetery in Belgium.

Louise Dorr, from the JCCC, says that Pte Edmundson was one of only eight Durham Light Infantry soldiers still missing from the Second Battle of Ypres:

"I’m delighted that Thomas’ family have been very involved in the planning of today’s service. It’s been a huge pleasure to get to meet them, some of whom have travelled from Canada.

"Thomas Edmundson made the greatest sacrifice for his country and it’s humbling to be here today with his biological and military family to honour him."

Riflemen from 3 RIFLES prepare to lower the coffin of Private Edmundson. (Picture: MoD)

Pte Edmundson was born in Sunderland in 1894 and enlisted into his local regiment, the Durham Light Infantry.

The 1st/7th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry was involved in the second Battle of Ypres which was fought from 22 April to 25 May 1915 for control of the strategic Flemish town of Ypres in western Belgium.

The Battalion lost eight soldiers in action on 26 April 1915. None of them have a known grave and their names are recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.

David Hall, a cousin of Pte Edmundson, said:

"There was fascination and great interest at the news that human remains found in Zonnebeke, Belgium, had been positively identified as a relative of ours.

"He died in the First World War, but had no known grave.

"We were unaware of this branch of the family, and sadly this part of Edmundson line died out, as Thomas had been the sole surviving son, a younger brother of Thomas’ died in infancy."

A new headstone bearing the soldier’s name has now also been provided by the CWGC, who will care for his grave.