Search on for fallen soldiers’ graves

MANY of the soldiers killed during the First World War have been buried in graves unknown.

While this is obviously not ideal, circumstances at the time meant that often there was no other choice.

Most of the soldiers killed were in infantry battalions which meant they were fighting either in trenches or in farming areas where paddocks were ploughed for planting or after harvesting.

Many of the battles also featured heavy artillery shelling from both British and German forces, ensuring the ground on which the soldiers fought and died was full of craters.

Add rain to the equation and the ploughed fields became dangerous bogs where fallen men could be buried unceremoniously in the mud and slush. Often they drowned in the mud.

FALLEN: Kyogle man Pte Alfred Webber who died in 1917 during the Battle of Messines.
FALLEN: Kyogle man Pte Alfred Webber who died in 1917 during the Battle of Messines.

During battle stretcher bearers worked in terrible conditions trying to bring in the wounded and they did not have time to attend to the dead soldiers, although dog tags were often removed so that some record of a death was kept.

While the graves of many fallen soldiers remain unknown, several memorials listing the names of those soldiers have been erected.

One of the biggest of these memorials is in the French village of Villers-Bretonneux and listed among the names are many Australians.

While the war is long gone, mass graves continue to be found with one of the more recent famous finds at Fromelles in northern France.

The Richmond River Historical Society has a special interest in the soldiers who died at Messines, the site of a major battle in 1917.

The society's interest has been sparked by the efforts of a Belgian gentleman who has taken an interest in men buried at Messines Ridge British Cemetery.

He recently contacted the society seeking information about any local soldiers buried there and whether we can locate any relatives still living in this area.

The society has already identified eight local men who died in 1917.

Frederick William Abbott (Alstonville), Henry Fredrick Leon Howard Deards (Uki), Herbert William Harley (Lismore), George Alfred Platt and his brother William Josiah Platt (both from Casino), Walter Snell (Murwillumbah), John Stevenson (Lismore) and Alfred Webber (Kyogle) are all thought to have been buried there.

Apparently a special service is to be held at the cemetery in 2017 and it is hoped that any relatives who can be found will attend.

Relatives of some of the men have been contacted but it is hoped that others can be identified.

If you know anyone who might be able to assist it would be appreciated, especially by the people in Belgium who are organising the commemoration.

There are possibly more soldiers from the region buried at the Messines cemetery and the search for information will continue.

Sometimes the information about burial sites changes, even in the official records.

One of the above soldiers, Alfred Webber, was originally listed as being buried at Messines Ridge but some records indicate he was buried at Toronto Avenue Cemetery, Ploegsteert.

The society however believes he was buried in Messines Ridge Cemetery as, in his record states that he died at Messines, not at Ploegsteert Wood.

These areas are all so close together that it is sometimes very confusing. Anyone who has information concerning a local soldier possibly buried at Messines Ridge is requested to contact the society.

Topics:  history wwi

ACCC sues Ford over automatic gearbox rips offs

The 2015 Ford Focus Hatch Sport.

The ACCC has launched court action against Ford.

Police officer 'lucky to be alive' after crash

A police officer is being treated by paramedics after crash.

Police car crashes into embankment on Summerland Way

The buildings can't talk but Bob Moran and Barry Dennis can

PROUD OF THE TOWN: Casino Folk Museum's Barry Dennis and Bob Moran at the 1879 post office building.

Come on a tour of Casino's old buildings

Local Partners

MOVIE REVIEW: War for the Planet of the Apes

Andy Serkis monkeys around with Apocalypse Now in War For the Planet Of the Apes.

Ninja Warrior airs clips of dead contestant Johann Ofner

Johann Ofner has been identified as the man shot dead in an incident in the Brisbane CBD this afternoon

He was killed before the series went to air.

Meet 7 of the Fraser Coast's most eligible bachelors

Fraser Coast eligible bachelor - Bobbi Depp.

Are you single and looking for love?

Justin Bieber speaks after cancelling 14 concerts

Helal’s selfie with Bieber

So is he starting his own church or not?

Kendall Jenner's raunchy pose could breach standards

Kendall Jenner

Other celebs including Rita Ora, Bella Hadid posted similar shots.

The best and worst reality TV coming

Matty J in a scene from episode two of The Bachelor.

Reality TV bonanza as Hell’s Kitchen, The Block and Survivor launch.

Tenant: Let me rent, I'll fix your property and pay for it

Noosaville tenant Tony Conyers thought his tenancy was guaranteed until 2035, so he spent his own money on the property. Now he's been told he may not be able to stay for even one more year.

Renter spent $30k on maintaining, improving property over 17 years

TENANTS FROM HELL: See the mess left by evicted couple

DISGUSTING: Mess left by evicted tenants. Owner of the Mongogarie property Christine Beatty has been left at least $5000 out of pocket.

Couple were 'living large' while not paying their rent

How Gladstone's cheapest and most expensive homes stack up

SPECTACULAR: This home on Springs Road, Agnes Water, is selling in the mid-$2 million range.

With the market currently low, now is the time to invest.

'We’re goin' to Bonnie Doon!' and now you can too

How's the serenity?

The experience will have you exclaiming “how’s the serenity?”