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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 October, 2004, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
British WWI soldier laid to rest
Private John Robertson Thomson
Private Thomson was killed in action in 1917
A British World War I soldier whose remains were discovered six years ago has been buried with full military honours in Belgium.

Pte John Robertson Thomson of the Gordon Highlanders regiment was laid to rest on Thursday at the Polygon Wood War Graves Cemetery, near Ypres.

Fifteen of Pte Thomson's relatives attended the ceremony, as did the UK's ambassador to Belgium, Richard Kinchen.

His niece, Grace Drysdale, described the service as "very emotional".

"It has been the most beautiful service and we couldn't have hoped for better," she said.

Holmes' appeal

Pte Thomson, from Lochgelly, Fife, died on 4 October 1917 after being fatally wounded during the third battle of Ypres.

His remains were not found until 1998, when they were unearthed in what is now a private garden.

About a quarter of a million British soldiers lost their lives during the third battle of Ypres, also known as the battle of Passchendaele, which began in July 1917 and ended four months later.

Pte Thomson's burial came as Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes launched this year's Poppy appeal, which aims to raise money for the welfare of servicemen and women and their families.

The Royal British Legion, the charity behind the appeal, hopes to raise 22m this year, outstripping last year's total of 21.7m.

Ms Holmes, a former Army sergeant, is the first sports personality to launch the appeal, which has been held every year since 1921.

"Having served nine-and-a-half years with the British Army, I'm very aware of the ways that the Royal British Legion assists service personnel," she said.


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