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Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 18:12 GMT
WWI soldier finally laid to rest
Sgt Major Hayden Aldred with Jay Wilkinson
Jay Wilkinson attended the service for his great-great-grandfather
A solider has been buried with full military honours - more than 80 years after he died in battle.

Private Harry Wilkinson, of the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, was laid to rest at Prowse Point Cemetery in Belgium on Wednesday.

His great-great-grandson Jay Wilkinson, nine, and the Duke of Kent were among those who gathered for the service.

In the muddy fields of Flanders they struggled together to conquer fear and pain....

Chaplain Ray Jones
His burial came as a special ceremony was due to take place at Ypres to mark the 25,000th sounding of the Last Post.

The service for Mr Wilkinson took place just a mile from where the soldier, from Bury, Lancashire, fell on a Flanders battlefield on 10 November 1914.

The burial was possible after the remains of Mr Wilkinson, who was 29, were found by a Belgian historian searching a section of the battlefield near Warneton, close to the French border in January last year.

Identity tag

He was identified by the artefacts found with him and forensic examination.

Found with him was his identity tag disk and a Lancashire Fusiliers cap badge.

Private  Harry Wilkinson
Private Harry Wilkinson was lost in battle on 10 November 1914
Ray Jones, Chaplain of St George's memorial Church in Ypres, said that it was a testimony to the efforts of those who had worked to identify soldiers from the First World War that after 80-odd years later they had been laid to rest.

"In the muddy fields of Flanders they struggled together to conquer fear and pain and fight in countryside that gave them little shelter from the weather or the enemy," he said.

The coffin was carried by six members of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers to music from the Minden Band from the Queen's Division based in Germany.

Corporal Gary Tarbuck, from Oldham, said: "It is an honour burying a man who has been left lying on the battlefield for so long. It is what he deserves."

Last Post

The Last Post was played as the duke and members of Mr Wilkinson's family laid wreaths at his graveside.

Great-granddaughter Annette Wilkinson with her son Jay and granddaughter June Brammer wipes away a tear
Private Wilkinson's family gathered for the service in Belgium
Later on Wednesday Mr Wilkinson was due to be honoured again with the playing of the Last Post at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Since 1928 the Last Post has been played each day at 2000 to remember those commemorated on the gate war memorial.

To mark the 25,000th sounding of the Last Post, a short service will take place at the gate on Wednesday afternoon, attended by the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Phillipe of Belgium.

As part of the commemoration a different soldier, sailor or airman killed during the 1914-1918 War is to be honoured each day for a year.

Mr Wilkinson, who was killed during an attack by the 2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in the triangle area of Le Touquet, Le Bixet and Ploegsteert, will be the first to be honoured in this way at the regular sounding of the Last Post at 2000 on Wednesday.

The BBC's Robert Hall
"It's future should forever reflect its past"
See also:

11 Nov 99 | UK
War dead remembered
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