Poet, steelworker and father-of-four among First World War soldiers laid to rest

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A keen poet, a steelworker and a father-of-four were among nine British soldiers who died in the First World War finally laid to rest on Wednesday.

Shots rang out in the Belgian countryside as they were given full military honours at a poignant service attended by many of their surviving families.

The remains of the nine servicemen were discovered during engineering works near the town of Ypres, in the Flanders Fields where so many soldiers lost their lives a century ago.

Thanks to extensive research by the Ministry of Defence’s “war detectives”, seven of the men have been identified.

First World War soldiers to be laid to rest
Private Harry Miller was one of nine British soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War finally laid to rest on Wednesday (handout/PA)

They served together in 11th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers and died within days of each other during the bloody Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917.

One of them – Private Joseph Patrickson MM – was killed just two days after his 24th birthday and was awarded a medal for his bravery.

The seven identified servicemen laid to rest are:

– 2nd Lieutenant Leslie Wallace Ablett

Born in Manchester, he was the son of Joseph and Caroline Ablett, and brother to Frederick.

By 1911 his family had moved south and was living in Streatham, London.

He was described as “bright, cheerful and of good tone”, and was also a keen poet and writer.

He died age 20.

– 2nd Lieutenant Edward Douglas Bruty

Born in Dulwich in Surrey, now south London, he was the son of William and Edith Bruty, and had four brothers and four sisters.

He worked as a railway clerk and enlisted in September 1914.

He died age 21.

– Sergeant Thomas Feasby

Born in Eston in Yorkshire, he was the son of Joseph and Catherine Feasby.

He and his brother George worked as tram conductors before he later moved on to work at a steelworks.

He died age 32.

First World War soldiers to be laid to rest
Lance Corporal Stanley Blakeborough and the other eight British soldiers were given full military honours (family handout/PA)

– Lance Corporal Stanley Blakeborough

Born in Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire, he was the son of Harry and Mary Blakeborough, and had five brothers and two sisters.

Two of his brothers, Charles and Donald, also fought during the First World War.

Stanley died age 21 and his brother Donald was killed less than three months later.

– Private Harry Miller

Born in Cockerton, Co Durham, he was the son of James and Anne Miller, and had three brothers and four sisters.

Harry married Melita Florence Birkett on May 22 1909 and had four children: Annie, James, Minnie and George.

His family later moved to Burton Leonard, North Yorkshire, where he worked as a farm labourer.

He died age 28.

First World War soldiers to be laid to rest
2nd Lieutenant Leslie Wallace Ablett was one of the nine British soldiers finally laid to rest at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium (family handout/PA)

– Private Joseph Patrickson MM.

Born in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, he was the son of Robert and Lucy Patrickson, and had two brothers and six sisters.

Although his military records do not survive, it is known that he was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery during the fighting in October 1917.

He died age 24.

– Private Arnold Sanderson MM

Born in Darlington, Co Durham, he was the son of Thomas and Emily Sanderson, and had six sisters.

He was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery during the fighting in October 1917 whilst working as runner for the officers.

A letter written to his mother stated that he was thought of a great deal by the officers and men.

He was described as a good soldier who always did his duty.

He died age 26.

The eighth casualty – closely linked with the seven named servicemen – could not be identified by name but was honoured as an “Unknown Soldier of the Northumberland Fusiliers”.

The final servicemen was buried as an “Unknown Soldier of the Great War”.

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