15 May 2019

The graves of two Kent soldiers have been identified more than 100 years after their deaths during the First World War.

The graves of two soldiers, whose names had previously been listed on Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorials to the Missing, have been rededicated with new headstones bearing their names.

The Revd Ian Kemp CF conducts the rededication service for Capt Edwards at Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery.

Following new evidence supplied by researchers and verified by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), the graves of Captain Cecil Thomas Tuff, The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment), and Captain Eric Wilson Edwards, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), were rededicated at Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cemeteries in France and Belgium on Tuesday 14 May.

Captain Tuff was killed during an attack by British soldiers on Hill 60 near Ypres where his body remained until the end of the war. It was then moved to Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery where he was buried as an unknown Captain and commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Captain Cecil Thomas Tuff (Copyright Malvern College)

Mrs Prunella Scarlett LVO, the great niece of Captain Tuff, who attended the rededication service at Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery with her brother Mr Geoffrey Tuff, said:

“The Tuff family is thrilled that the grave of our great uncle Cecil has been found. We are so grateful to all those involved in the research, particularly the researcher Martin Stoneham, whose initiative it was after reading the names on his local World War I memorial.”

Captain Edwards was killed while defending a position at Heudicourt, south of Cambrai. Following the war, he was buried as an unknown Captain in Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery and commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval.

Captain Eric Wilson Edwards (right) photographed with his younger brother, Lewis (Copyright Knowles-Brown family)

Andrew Knowles-Brown, great nephew of Captain Edwards said:

“How do I feel – humbled, surprised, saddened and elated! None of my living family ever met Eric. My grandfather, Lewis, died when I was in my early teens, so it was only when I started looking at my family history that I found out about Eric.

“Now I am happy, happy to know Eric has a place and has been in a cemetery for a little over 101 years, even though it was not known. My youngest daughter is the same age as Eric was when he made his final sacrifice, for his future relations, who he would never know.”

Both services, which were organised by the CWGC and the JCCC, were conducted by the Reverend Ian Kemp CF, Chaplain to 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

Geoffrey Tuff lays a wreath at the graveside of his great uncle Capt Tuff at Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery.

The services were also attended by Members of The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, the antecedent regiment to both The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) and The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment).

Rosie Barron, JCCC, said:

“Both of these men gave their lives in the service of their country and left behind families who mourned their loss. It has been a privilege to organise these two rededication services, to complete their stories and to share these experiences with the families of Capt Tuff and Capt Edwards.”

As part of the rededication, the CWGC provided two new headstones bearing the names of Captain Tuff and Captain Edwards. Gareth Hardware, CWGC Head of Horticulture for Western Europe Area said:

“It is a privilege to rededicate the graves of Captains’ Cecil Thomas Tuff and Eric Wilson Edwards in the presence of their families. Commemorated on a Memorial to the Missing for almost 100 years, the identification of their last resting places enables the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to renew our commitment to care for their graves, in perpetuity.”