Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Saturday, 30 January 2010

Fallen WWI soldier from Bradford to be laid to rest

Private John Holdsworth
Private John Holdsworth was just 16 when he was killed in Fromelles

A soldier from West Yorkshire who was killed in France during World War I and buried in a mass grave is among those who are being formally laid to rest.

Pte John Holdsworth, from Queensbury, near Bradford, was 16 years old when he died during the Battle of Fromelles.

The bodies of 250 soldiers, buried by the Germans after the battle, were excavated last year.

A ceremony marking the first of the reburials has taken place. Each soldier is being buried with military honours.

The Australian, British and French governments were represented at the ceremony.

It was the wish of both governments to give these brave soldiers a fitting place of rest
Veterans Minister Kevan Jones

Burials will continue to take place two to three times a week until 19 July - the 94th anniversary of the battle.

Relatives of Pte Holdsworth have sent off DNA samples to see if his remains can be identified. The test results are due in February.

If they are successful his name will be recorded on a headstone.

Pte Holdsworth's great nephew, Michael Langan, said it was "upsetting to think of someone so young on the frontline".

The first of the soldiers is reburied with full military honours

"It makes you wonder how they'd cope, how anybody would cope, in that situation."

Pte Holdsworth ran away from home three times when he was 15 to try to join the army and was successful on his fourth attempt.

The mass graves at Fromelles were discovered several years ago by Australian researcher Lambis Englezos who identified the site.

Veterans Minister Kevan Jones said: "It was the wish of both governments to give these brave soldiers a fitting place of rest, honouring the commitment shown to our fallen after the First World War.

"Today we have started that process."

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