Graves of six soldiers from Welsh regiments identified on the Western Front

Although all six soldiers were buried at the time of their deaths, their names have been lost. Their graves were only recently identified after researchers submitted records to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

Further research by the MODJoint Casualty and Compassionate Care Center (JCCCC)JCCC), also known as “MOD War Detectives, The CWGCand the National Army Museum, used sources such as war diaries, service records, grave registration reports and other documents. As a result, the original findings were confirmed, making it possible to commemorate each soldier by name.

The grave rededication services were conducted by JCCCand I saw named tombstones provided for the second lieutenant (2/Lt) Noël Osbourne Jones; 2/Lt Herbert Taggart; Soldier (Soldier) Lionel Grove and the captain (Captain) Clifford Nichols, all members of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and Corporal-Master (Master Corporal) Arthur Dowding of the Monmouthshire Regiment and Soldier George Price of the South Wales Borderers. Serving soldiers and representatives of the Royal Welsh attended the ceremonies.

Services were held in France on July 2 at CWGCThe funeral took place on 3 July at Bellicourt British Cemetery and Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, and in Belgium at Bedford House Cemetery and Chester Farm Cemetery. Captain Nichols' family was present.

JCCC Alexia Clark, social worker, said:

Researching these six men and learning their individual war stories has been a fascinating journey. It has been a privilege to have played a part in bringing these stories to a close and knowing that their families finally have answers to what happened to them.

2/Lt Noel Osborne-Jones, 2/Lt Herbert Taggart and Soldier Lionel Grove were all killed on 8th May 1916 during a trench raid. Their bodies were recovered by the Germans and buried by them at Fournes, before being transferred to Cabaret Rouge Cemetery after the war. Unfortunately, the Germans did not know their names and so only identified their bodies by rank and regiment. After the war, the names of all three men were inscribed on the Loos Missing Memorial.

Master Corporal Dowding was killed in action near Ramicourt in October 1918, just weeks before the end of the war. Although he was buried at the time of his death, key information about his grave was lost in the chaos of the conflict and, after the war, his name was inscribed on the Vis-en-Artois memorial.

The military group stands behind Corporal Dowding's headstone (Crown copyright)

Captain Nichols was killed at the Battle of Passchendaele on 31 July 1917. At the time of his death he was listed as a member of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers who had been attached to the 164th Machine Gun Company. His body was found in an unmarked grave near Spree Farm in 1923, and his rank and regiment were identified by his buttons and badges. Unfortunately there was no record of his name at the time, and he was buried as an unknown officer. After the war, CaptainNichols was commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres.

Captain Nichols' family stands with the military group at the graveside (Crown Copyright)

Private Price was killed in action near Hill 60, Belgium, in October 1917. He was initially buried in a field grave, but by the end of the war all records of his name had been lost. He was commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.

Wreaths and flowers laid on Private Price's grave (Crown Copyright)

The services were conducted by Reverend Richard Mutter CF, Chaplain to the 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh.

Rev. Richard Mutter CF said:

To honor these young men and to honour their sacrifice here in this place is a very special thing. I am pleased to have presided over these rededication ceremonies and to have helped close the final chapter in these men's stories.

The tombstones above the graves have been replaced by CWGC. Xavier Puppinck, France Zone Director at CWGCsaid:

It is an honor for the CWGC It is our mission to care for the graves of these six brave soldiers from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the Monmouthshire Regiment and the South Wales Borderers who were lost in France and Belgium during the First World War. They paid a high price fighting on the Western Front over 100 years ago. And today, we have the privilege and duty to care for their graves in perpetuity.

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