Burial Ceremony Takes Place Today for WWI Soldiers


After twenty First World War soldiers’ bodies were discovered in 2010, a reburial ceremony took place today. Discovered at the construction site of a new prison, where the Battle of Loos took place in September 1915, only one of the bodies has been formally identified, with the other nineteen set to buried as ‘Known Unto God.’ The one who has been identified was Private William McAleer, from the 7th Battalion the Royal Scottish Fusiliers. His step great-nephew was at the ceremony today at Loos-en-Gohelle, France.

Rehearsals began yesterday morning in the thick fog as soldiers began the emotional task of carrying the soldiers’ coffins and laying them to rest. The Battle of Loos, led by Sir Douglas Haig happened simultaneously as the French attacked the German lines at Champagne and at Vimy Ridge in Arras and featured the first British use of poison gas.

Peter Francis, of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission revealed that Private McAleer’s identity was only able to be discovered because he was wearing a metal identity tag, claiming “This is slightly unusual because British soldiers didn’t have metal ID tags during the First World War, so this was something he’d got himself.”

There are currently around 187,000 war graves with the inscription ‘Known Unto God’ as their identities were never discovered.