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First World War dead receive military burials

TWENTY British soldiers killed during the First World War have finally been laid to rest with full military honours, almost 100 years after they died.

The soldiers were buried yesterday in France.
The soldiers were buried yesterday in France.

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, in France.

Only one of the bodies found has been identified: Private William McAleer, 7th Battalion the Royal Scottish Fusiliers.

Born in Leven, Fife, 22-year-old Pte McAleer died shortly after the battle had begun and was identified by a home-made metal ID tag.

Among the other soldiers found with Pte McAleer were a Northumberland Fusilier, another six Royal Scottish Fusiliers and a member of the York and Lancaster Regiment. In addition, there were two Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and nine others whose regiment has not been identified.

Pte McAleer was given his own burial plot, with the others buried in six other plots side by side.

The remains of 30 German soldiers were found nearby, and have been handed over to the German authorities.

Yesterday, representatives from the regiments with links to the British servicemen attended a reinterment service at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Loos-en-Gohelle, near Lens.

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.

Mr McLeod, 47, a former Black Watch soldier, said he was touched to honour Pte McAleer in France.

He said: "To come to the Commonwealth [Cemetery] and show my respects, especially as a former soldier, to those who have fallen is a great honour.

"But to be able to come here in the centenary year and show respect to kith and kin is unique."

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