Ploegsteert - Le Touquet - Armentieres.
14 September 1914 - 22nd April 1915.
Three more 2nd Bn LF's have been found
Thinking over the information about the three 2nd Bn LFs whose bodies have now been identified, I felt that I had seen the Sgt's name somewhere before.
Sure enough, I found what I was looking for about 0130 hrs this morning!
This is what I discovered:-
Le Touquet 18th October 1914.
Second Battalion XX The Lancashire Fusiliers.
Early in the morning ,"B" (Captain W. Higgin-Birkett)
and "C" (Captain R. Luker) Companies advanced on the left of
the Le Bizet Le Touquet road, with "A" Company in support
and "D" Company in reserve. The village was strongly held, the
houses were loopholed and trenches were dotted about over the open ground
outside the village. Moreover the enemy was able to bring a cross fire
of artillery and rifles from the east bank of the River Lys and from the
loopholed buildings of Frelinghien. As a result, progress was very slow,
"B" and "C" Companies lost touch and a platoon of
"A" Company under Second-Lieutenant L. B. L. Seckham, with Serjeant
W. Evans, was sent up to restore contact. But the enemy fire was so heavy
that it was found necessary to reinforce this platoon by Lieutenant J.
K. C. Cross's platoon of "D" Company, which moved across country
under heavy fire. Though Cross himself was hit in the head by a piece
of shrapnel he rushed forward another thirty yards, but was then obliged
to drop out. While his wound was being bound up behind a haystack by Seckham,
a German shell carried away the top of the stack.
The following Paragraph is of great importance in view of the recent discovery of the bodies of three Lancashire Fusiliers of the Second Battalion.
Sgt Parkinson and Pte Pulford are two of the men whose bodies have now been identified.
It is also of great interest that the man named as J Lynn would later win a Victoria cross.
This proved to be impossible, although gallant and
valuable work was done by a machine gun manned by Serjeant E. M. Parkinson
and Privates H. Pulford, J. Lynn and Yates. The first two were unfortunately
killed by two consecutive shots two days later.
Fusilier is finally laid to rest after 87 years
Pte Harry Wilkinson
2nd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers
Re-burial of Pte Harry Wilkinson 2nd Battalion Lancashire
BURY Fusilier Private Harry Wilkinson was finally laid to rest close to where he was killed nearly 87 years ago.
Three generations of his family were joined at Flanders by civic dignitaries, military representatives and members of the public as they watched his coffin, draped with a Union flag, a wreath of poppies and a beret bearing the primrose hackle of the Lancashire Fusiliers, was carried into the churchyard at Prowse Point Military Cemetery near Warneton, Belgium.
Pte Wilkinson's remains were carried by six members of his former regiment.
During the service on Wednesday, tribute was paid to the soldier's sacrifice and, as his coffin was lowered into the ground, a single bugler sounded the Last Post.
A volley of shots was then fired over the graveside by members of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, to remember the Bury soldier and father who died in the 'war to end all wars'.
The Wilkinson family, who were traced as a result of work carried out by the Bury Times, said they were extremely proud that their brave relative had finally been honoured.
Nine-year-old Jay Wilkinson attended the funeral with his mother, Annette Wilkinson and his great-aunt, June Brammer, the Fusilier's 59-year-old granddaughter.
Young Jay was given the honour of wearing his great- great-grandfather's three military medals, the Mons Star, the War Medal and the Victory Medal, as he laid a wreath following the service. It read: "Harry, lost but now found. God Bless."
Five hundred people, including the Duke of Kent, packed into the small, wind-swept cemetery, which lies along the former Flanders front line.
The Duke, who is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, senior military officers from the regiment, and other members of his family also laid wreaths at the graveside. Mrs Wilkinson said: "It has been nice to put him to rest at last."
Pte Wilkinson's remains were the first to be identified
in 25 years in both Belgium and France, after they were discovered in
January last year.
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
He was then involved in non-stop action at Le Cateau, Marne and Aisne. His unit moved by train to the Ypres Salient and saw more combat at LeTouquet.
Seven hundred of the 1,100 Fusiliers he had sailed to France with were either dead or wounded.
Pte Wilkinson met his death, along with two other soldiers, during a raid on German-held trenches at a farm house in Ploegsteert Wood on November 10, 1914. His body was buried in a shallow shell crater by his brothers-in-arms.
His remains lay under the earth until they were uncovered by Belgian amateur war historian Patrick Roelens, after the ground had been ploughed for the first time in 85 years.
His metal military ID tag, and other Lancashire Fusilier artifacts were also discovered with Pte Wilkinson's remains.
The Wilkinson family, from Luton, now intend to return on another pilgrimage to Ypres to honour Pte Wilkinson.
They will also be meeting friends they have made as
a result of the discovery of their ancestor's remains.
World War I soldiers re-interred in Belgium
Pte Lancaster's remains were discovered by archaeologists in 2006 alongside two unknown soldiers who were also re-interred during today's ceremony.
Born in Lancashire in 1882, Pte Lancaster served in the Regular Army from 1901-05, when he married Phoebe Porter in Burnley. The marriage certificate lists them both as weavers. He was mobilised in August 1914 and embarked for France, where he saw action at Le Cateau and Armentières.
Pte Lancaster was killed in action on 10 November 1914 during a counter-attack south of Ieper (Ypres), near Ploegsteert Wood, only a few hundred yards from where the Christmas Truce would take place a month later.
The service in Ypres was attended by Pte Lancaster's granddaughter, Doreen Grimshaw, along with other family members. Doreen, aged 71, from Accrington, explained how she first heard that her grandfather's remains had been discovered:
"We got to know on Good Friday last year," she explained. "I was just totally surprised and amazed. Then things just snowballed from there as the arrangements for today began to take shape. At the time I wasn't thinking about actually going to Belgium myself but it's good to be here."
Doreen knew very little about her grandfather:
"I discovered through my grandmother that he died during the First World War. He was my dad's father, but my dad never really knew him as he was only four when his father died."
Doreen admitted to being apprehensive as the day of the ceremony drew nearer:
"I had mixed feelings; I've been a little nervous and was just hoping that the weather would hold today. Everybody involved has been really fantastic though, particularly Sue Raftree and her team.
"It's been a very emotional ceremony. Lots of soldiers were present in their ceremonial uniforms. Some people have travelled all the way from the UK, people that didn't even know my grandfather.
"His name is commemorated on a plaque in a church in Burnley and some of the regulars to the church saw the story on the TV last year. They recognised my grandfather's name and decided they would come over to Belgium on the ferry and pay their respects by laying a wreath."
Sue Raftree, from the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre based at RAF Innsworth in Gloucester, said:
"Today's events were especially moving and very professionally done by all those involved. The task at Prowse Point Cemetery was made a little harder by the fact that there were three coffins.
"Although Private Lancaster was found with his identity discs, the other two soldiers were not, so we had to check through the records to establish exactly which of the bodies was Private Lancaster."
In a separate service at nearby Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, the remains of an unknown Lancashire Fusilier were also re-interred today. The remains were found in May 2005 during archaeological excavations on the former Ypres-Roulers railway, 300 metres from Tyne Cot cemetery.
On 9 October 1917 six battalions of the Lancashire Fusiliers took part in a final push to take the railway and the ridge at Poelkapelle. 307 men were killed in action; 247 of them have no known grave and are commemorated on the rear wall of the cemetery.
Following the ceremony the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 unveiled a plaque on the spot where the soldier was found and where a preserved section of the wartime railway has been restored. This now forms part of a walking and cycle path.
The re-interments in Belgium come eight days before the state ceremony to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, also at Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.
The Drums Platoon from the 1st Battalion provided the Carrying and Firing Parties and throughout maintained the best traditions of the Regiment. Richard Lancaster and the two unidentified bodies were buried at the Prowse Point Military Cemetery near "Plugstreet Wood" to the south of Ypres. The unidentified officer was buried at Tyne Cot Military Cemetery. For future reference a permanent memorial to the LFs at Passchendaele will be created at the spot were the officer was found on the old railway line close to Tyne Cot cemetery. The evening of the 4th saw the Drums Platoon performing at the Menin Gate Ceremony. Their performance was first class and they have been asked back for the 11th November.
The Regimental Museum was instrumental in the identification of the body and finding surviving members of Richard Lancaster's family. Indeed the funeral reunited several members of the Lancaster family who had never met. As requested by the Joint Compassionate and Casualty Centre, the MoD department responsible for the overall coordination of events, on the Tuesday before the funeral, the Museum provided a briefing and tour of the battlefield for the family . Following the funeral on Thursday, the Museum provided a tour of both battlefields for the Fusiliers from the 1st Battalion who were also accompanied by members of the Lancaster family, uniformed members of the Great War Society and the local archaeologists who discovered the body of Richard Lancaster.
The event generated considerable media interest and article appeared on television, radio, national and local newspapers. There are a further 15 LFs recorded as being buried in that area with no official grave, so watch this space.