Burial service for WWI soldiers in France

WWI Soldiers Buried In France More Than 100 Years After Their Deaths

The remains of three First World War soldiers were discovered on a battlefield near Anneux in February 2016.

Burial service for WWI soldiers in France

The burial service took place in northern France (Picture: Crown Copyright).

The families of two young British soldiers killed in the First World War have finally seen them laid to rest more than 100 years later.

Private Henry Wallington and Private Frank Mead, of the 23rd (County of London) Battalion, were buried with full military honours, alongside a third unidentified British soldier from the same regiment.

A salute was fired and 'The Last Post' played during the ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) British cemetery at Hermies Hill, near Albert in northern France.

The remains of all three soldiers were discovered in February 2016 in a back garden in the village of Anneux, which was a battlefield 100 years ago.

Research suggests Ptes Wallington and Mead were killed on 3 December 1917, during the Battle of Cambrai, which marked the first large-scale use of tanks, while they were both in their early twenties.

23rd Battalion present Union Flags at burial service for WWI soldiers in France
23rd Battalion presented Union Flags to the family members present in France (Picture: Crown Copyright).

At dawn on November 20 1917, the British Third Army launched an attack towards Cambrai using the largest number of tanks so far in the conflict.

But more than half were out of action by the end of the first day, despite British forces making advances of around five miles.

The soldiers were forced to retreat over the coming days and by early December, when the battle ended, more than 80,000 men from both sides were either wounded, missing or killed.

The only artefact found giving any clue to Ptes Wallington and Mead's identities was a single 23rd (County of London) Battalion shoulder title.

Both born in Peckham, Henry Wallington was 22 when he was killed, while Frank Mead was 23.

Families lay flowers at burial service for WWI soldiers in France
(Picture: Crown Copyright).

Pte Mead's great-nephews, Paul and Chris Mead, attended the funeral service.

"It's been an emotional time and we never dreamt of anything like this," said Chris.

He went on to explain his late father had kept all of Pte Mead's letters but did not know where the young serviceman was.

The search to identify the third soldier is ongoing.

Each year, the remains of around 40 British soldiers who died in the First World War are found on battlefields in Europe and the JCCC tries to identify them.

A wristwatch, silver pipe band and remnants of British Army uniforms were also discovered but could not provide any further clues to identify the third man and the investigation continues.