THREE British soldiers killed in the First World War were finally put to rest more than 100 years after their death.
Private Henry Wallington and Private Frank Mead of the 23rd Battalion (County of London) were buried with full military honors alongside an unidentified British soldier serving in the same regiment.
The remains of all three were discovered in February 2016 on the battlefield at Anneux.
Investigations suggest that Ptes Wallington and Mead were killed on 3 December 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai – which was the first large-scale deployment of tanks – when they were both in their early twenties.
The only artifact to find a clue to their identity was the title of a single 23rd Battalion (County of London).
After extensive research, the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Center of the Department of Defense was established [JCCC] Candidates were narrowed down to nine possible names and genealogy was used to track down surviving members so that DNA samples could be taken.
Two tests provided positive results and identified Ptes Wallington and Mead.
BATTLE OF CAMBRAI
At the dawn of November 20, 1917, the British Third Army attacked Cambrai with the largest number of tanks that had previously been in conflict.
But by the end of the first day, more than half were out of action, though the British forces were advancing some eight kilometers.
The soldiers had to retreat in the coming days and in early December, when the battle ended, more than 80,000 men were either wounded, missing or killed by either side.
Margot Bains, the niece of Pte Wallington, and Paul and Chris Mead, the two great nephews of Pte Mead, were among those who attended the funeral in northern France today.
Henry Wallington was born in Peckham in 1896, the son of Joseph Henry Wallington and Edith Bennett, and died at the age of 22.
He had three sisters, Dorothy, Mabel and Grace, and two half-brothers, Joseph and Walter.
Through Walter, the JCCC managed to get a positive DNA match and track down his niece Margot.
Ms. Bains from Lincolnshire said, "It was beautiful, very moving, we did not know anything about Henry, we did not know he even existed."
& # 39; VERY MOVING & # 39;
Frank Mead, also born in Peckham, was the son of Thomas Mead and Elizabeth Louisa Rutland the year before. He died at the age of 23 years.
Through his brother Reginald, the JCCC obtained a DNA sample and tracked his great-nephew Paul Mead, who lives in California, and Chris Mead from Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.
Chris Mead, who will visit the area where his great-uncle died in battle for the first time on Wednesday, said, "We could not believe it when we heard it.
"It was an emotional time and we have never dreamed it.
"It was a fantastic experience, an incredible event and very moving.
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"My father died four years ago, but he kept all of Frank's letters.
"We had the letters from the trenches, but we did not know where he (Frank) was.
"We are only grateful for the opportunity to tell his story."
The three soldiers were found in a garden in the village of Anneux when the owner dug a trench for a drainpipe.
A wristwatch, a silver whistle band, and remnants of British Army uniforms were also discovered, but could provide no further clues to identify the third man, and the investigation continues.
Every year, the remnants of some 40 British soldiers killed in the First World War are found on Europe's former battlefields.
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