Colonel Des Bergin representing the Irish Embassy and Lieutenant Colonel Ret'd Dominic Hancock of the British Embassy lay wreaths at the graveside 210319 CREDIT MOD.jpg
WWI

Four Unidentified Soldiers Buried 100 Years After Their Deaths

The four unidentified Irish soldiers who died during the First World War have been laid to rest on the Western Front.

Colonel Des Bergin representing the Irish Embassy and Lieutenant Colonel Ret'd Dominic Hancock of the British Embassy lay wreaths at the graveside 210319 CREDIT MOD.jpg

Representatives of the Irish and British embassies laid wreaths at the gravesides (Picture: MOD).

Four unidentified Irish soldiers who fell during the First World War have been laid to rest in two burial services over Tuesday and Wednesday.

The first burial service took place at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Messines Ridge British Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium on Tuesday 19 March.

The second burial happened on Wednesday 20 March at Guillemont Road Cemetery, on the Somme in France.

The services were organised by the Ministry of Defence's Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) and were conducted by the Reverend Nathan King CF, Chaplain to 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment.

Service in Belgium to commemorate two unknown Royal Irish 210319 CREDIT War Grave Commission.jpg
The first burial service took place in Belgium (Picture: Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

The Reverend Nathan King, said:

"Although soldiers die, some of them unknown, their lives are celebrated here, and their souls offered to God, as held in the beliefs of the Christian faith. People are never forgotten, and their lives honoured."

The bearer party at each service was composed of members of 1st and 2nd Battalions of The Royal Irish Regiment.

Despite extensive research, it was not possible for the JCCC to identify any of these soldiers due to the high numbers of casualties in both areas.

Rosie Barron, from JCCC, said it was a privilege to organise the two services and to work alongside The Royal Irish Regiment.

Ms Barron said:

"Although their identities remain unknown, they are now at rest alongside their comrades and their sacrifices will not be forgotten."

Messines Ridge British Cemetery 210319 CREDIT War Graves Commission.jpg
The first service took place at the Messines Ridge British Cemetery (Picture: Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

The first service saw a soldier of The Royal Irish Rifles and an unknown soldier of an unknown regiment, laid to rest at Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

The remains of these two soldiers had been discovered during work to widen a drainage ditch south west of the town of Wijtschate.

Research shows they were most likely killed in either June 1917, during the Battle of Messines or in April 1918, during the Battle of the Lys.

A second burial service took place on 20 March for a soldier of The Connaught Rangers and an unknown soldier of an unknown regiment at Guillemont Road Cemetery.

The remains of these two soldiers had been uncovered during work on a wind turbine project near the village of Guillemont.

They are believed to have been killed in September 1916.

Paul Bird, CWGC Recovery Officer said:

"The Commonwealth War Graves Commission will proudly mark and care for their graves, together with all of those who served and fell, in perpetuity."