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A soldier of the Great War found & identified at long last

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#1 Snowbird3a


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Posted 21 January 2018 - 04:02 AM

Folks, this was recently sent to my cousin who lives in my hometown of Sunderland, England.  It looks like I'll be off to Belgium this March;


In November 2014, a set of human remains – those of a British soldier – were discovered in the vicinity of Zonnebeke, Belgium. Found with them was a piece of military insignia – a shoulder title from the Durham Light Infantry. Following an exhumation of this field grave, the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre has been carrying out some very painstaking research in order to try and identify the soldier. 

The starting point was the shoulder title; from this, we know that he served with the Durham Light Infantry. We have trawled through the war diaries of all the different battalions from this regiment for the entire period of the war and managed to exclude them all by virtue of the fact none of them were in action at Zonnebeke until the 2nd Battle of Ypres during April – May 1915. Five territorial battalions fought in the 2nd Battle of Ypres, but it was possible to eliminate four of them as they didn’t march through - or see action at - Zonnebeke during the battle. The one battalion that did was the 1st/7th Battalion, which lost 8 soldiers, killed in action, on 26 April 1915. None of them have a known grave and all are commemorated on the Menin Gate. 

We instructed our DNA contractors to take a sample from the remains, then traced family from each of the soldiers and asked them to provide a DNA sample for comparison against the profile obtained from the remains. The comparator sample for the Edmundson family was provided by Thomas’ second cousin once removed, Norman Edmundson; the comparison proved that they were related through a shared paternal relative and that the remains were those of Thomas Telford Edmundson. Norman is pleased that the remains have been identified, but does not want to come to the service, hence my searching for more family. 

You and Thomas are related through William Edmundson (1803 – 1857), your great, great, great grandfather and Thomas’ great grandfather. William and his wife Ann had 2 sons (Mark and Joseph) and the direct line of descendants for each of them is shown below (although I haven’t included more than one son per generation).



(family tree snipped)--it does turn out that Thomas Telford Edmundson was my Grampa's first cousin twice removed--and back to the story--



It now falls to me to organise a full burial with military honours for Thomas; this is planned for 14 March at PerthCemetery (China Wall), near Ypres in Belgium. It will be a full ceremonial burial and I’m attaching a couple of pictures from other similar services – I hope they’ll interest you. I would be delighted if you and any other members of Thomas’ family would like to have some input into the service and attend on the day . There will be military and local Belgian dignitaries attending, together with standard bearers from the Royal British Legion, a bearer party, chaplain and bugler from The Rifles and myself and a colleague from JCCC. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission will provide a headstone bearing Thomas’ name. Following the ceremony there will be a reception/refreshments. We would also like to send the story/pictures to local newspapers in the Sunderland area.--end quote



Cool beans, or what ????







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#2 BiggTim


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Posted 21 January 2018 - 05:47 AM

That is totally awesome!

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#3 CANicoll


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Posted 21 January 2018 - 05:48 AM

Wow, over a hundred years later, that is very interesting!



#4 ssculptor


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Posted 21 January 2018 - 06:15 AM

Maybe now he can rest in peace.

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#5 MikeC


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Posted 21 January 2018 - 06:52 AM

That is simply a wonderful story.  May he rest in peace at last, known and honoured.


My great-uncle on my father's side was in the 13th Durham Light Infantry, so this has a special resonance for me. 

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#6 Jeff


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Posted 21 January 2018 - 04:34 PM

Tony.................. that is VERY cool beans...... I for one would love to see any photos, and my hat is off to those who find these long lost heroes and identify them , give them their name back and honor them with dignity. I would love to be part of that procedure, and to  Thomas Telford Edmundson................ I Thank You for Your Service, and your ultimate Sacrifice, may you now rest comfortably and peaceful..... welcome home.

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#7 Gigant


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Posted 21 January 2018 - 06:38 PM

In honor of my father's family sacrifice in that war, I wish I could personally attend such a service myself...

:innocent: Tom

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#8 Troy Molitor

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 10:18 AM

Wow. Great story Tony. Thanks for sharing this with us.


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