Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Headstone unveiled at grave of WWI soldier

A HEADSTONE has been unveiled at the unmarked grave of a soldier who fought in the First World War

A HEADSTONE has been unveiled at the unmarked grave of a soldier who fought in the First World War.

Private Alfred Barnes, who served in the Royal Engineers, died on February 21, 1918, aged 44.

He was invalided out of the army shortly before his death and his landlady in West Street, Henley, wrote to his regiment to say he would be buried anonymously if no family could be found.

He was buried in Fair Mile cemetery in an unmarked grave and forgotten for almost a century.

Pte Barnes' story was uncovered by amateur historian Mike Willoughby, from Woodcote, who runs the Lest We Forget project, which aims to honour every serviceman from the Henley area who died in the conflict.


On Sunday, more than 20 people attended a service led by Rev Duncan Carter, vicar of Holy Trinity Church and chairman of Lest We Forget?s project group.

Rev Carter gave the dedication to Pte Barnes while standards from the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion were held by veteran Brian Hughes and the Mayor?s cadet Alex Hearn-Phillips.

Among those to attend the service were Henley Mayor Martin Akehurst, town councillors Stefan Gawrysiak and Elizabeth Hodgkin and John Green, chairman of the Henley branch of the Royal British Legion.

The Henley detachment of the army cadets also attended and Cpl Lauren Hunt laid a poppy wreath at the grave.


The Last Post was sounded by trumpeter Marilyn Elliott and there was a minute?s silence before Brig Malcolm Page, president of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion, read the Kohima Epitaph.

Mr Willoughby said: ?I came across Pte Barnes as part of my research and saw he had been buried here and totally forgotten about.

?We are looking for any remaining family but until then the grave will be adopted by the cadets. If I had the choice of being remembered on the day I died or 97 years later I?d choose the latter.


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