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Irish heroes of Great War finally laid to rest

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Colonel Des Bergin, representing the Irish Embassy, and Lieutenant Colonel Ret’d Dominic Hancock, of the British Embassy, lay wreaths at the graveside

Colonel Des Bergin, representing the Irish Embassy, and Lieutenant Colonel Ret’d Dominic Hancock, of the British Embassy, lay wreaths at the graveside

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Colonel Des Bergin, representing the Irish Embassy, and Lieutenant Colonel Ret’d Dominic Hancock, of the British Embassy, lay wreaths at the graveside

Two burial services have been held for four Irish soldiers killed during the First World War.

The first was at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Messines Ridge British Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium, on Tuesday.

It saw a soldier of the Royal Irish Rifles and an unknown soldier laid to rest.

The second service was held at Guillemont Road Cemetery on the Somme in France.

Both of the burials were conducted by Rev Nathan King, chaplain to 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment.

The bearer party at each service was composed of members of 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment.

They were organised by the MoD's Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC).

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Despite research, it was not possible for the JCCC to identify any of the soldiers due to the high numbers of casualties.

The JCCC's Rosie Barron said: "It has been a privilege to organise these services and to work with the Royal Irish Regiment to ensure these Irish soldiers have had the burial they deserve.

"Although their identities remain unknown, they are at rest alongside comrades and their sacrifices will not be forgotten."

The remains of two of the soldiers were discovered during work to widen a ditch south-west of the town of Wijtschate.

Research suggests they were most likely killed in either June 1917, during the Battle of Messines, or in April 1918, during the Battle of the Lys.

The second burial service was held for a soldier of the Connaught Rangers and an unknown soldier of an unknown regiment. The remains of these two soldiers were uncovered during work on a wind turbine project near Guillemont. They are believed to have been killed in September 1916.

Rev King said: "Although soldiers die, some of them unknown, their lives are celebrated here and their souls offered to God. People are never forgotten. Their lives are honoured."


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