AN army captain from Wearside has helped lay to rest 20 British soldiers killed in action during the First World War.
Captain Alex Hendry, chairman of Sunderland Fusiliers’ Association, travelled to France to take part in the reinterment service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, at Loos-en-Gohelle, near Lens.
The soldiers who perished in the Battle of Loos in 1915 were found in 2010, during clearance work for a new prison near Vendin-le-Vieil, north of Arras.
Among the soldiers who died and found were a Northumberland Fusilier, six Royal Scottish Fusiliers and a member of the York and Lancaster Regiment.
Captain Hendry, said: “I was asked to go over and take part in the service as a representative of the city’s Fusiliers’ Association.
“All those found were buried with full military honours.”
Only one of the troops discovered has been identified – Private William McAleer, of the 7th Battalion the Royal Scottish Fusiliers, part of the 45th Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Division.
The 22-year-old died shortly after the battle began and he was identified due to his body being found with his small home-made metal ID tag.
Little is known about Pte McAleer, but it is known that his father was a miner who died in a pit accident, and his mother later remarried.
Representatives from all the regiments with links to the British troops attended a reinterment service.
Those who could not be identified were buried as soldiers “Known unto God” in front of more than 200 people, including Pte McAleer’s great step nephew, Stephen McLeod.
All 20 soldiers were given full military honours.
Pte McAleer’s coffin was given his own burial plot, with his headstone reading “13766, Private W. McAleer Royal Scots Fusiliers, 26th September 1915, age 22”.
The remainder were buried in six other plots side by side.
A military firing party led a salute during the service.