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Inniskilling Fusilier laid to rest century after his Somme death

By Tom Pugh

Published 09/10/2015

The body of First World War soldier Sgt. David Harkness is laid to rest in Connaught Cemetery near Thiepval
The body of First World War soldier Sgt. David Harkness is laid to rest in Connaught Cemetery near Thiepval
Sgt David Harkness
Granddaughter Helen Coleman sheds a tear at the ceremony

A decorated British soldier killed in action in the First World War has finally been laid to rest with full military honours almost 100 years after he died.

Sergeant David Harkness Blakey, of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed aged 26 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916.

He was serving with D Company, 11th Battalion, which formed part of the 109 Brigade of the 36th Ulster Division.

In November 2013 his remains were found during work on a road-widening project in Thiepval, northern France.

Identifying fallen First World War soldiers is rare as tags were commonly made from paper or compressed fibres, which rapidly decomposed. But a home-made metal identity tag believed with '18634 Sgt David Harkness Blakey MM of the R Innis Fus' etched on it helped to confirm his identity, along with the discovery of a cap badge.

The married father-of-three from Gateshead was only the fifth soldier in 10 years to be identified using personal items. An appeal to trace his relatives resulted in a number being found in the north of England. Three generations of his family attended the burial in France.

Belfast Telegraph

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