07 November 2019

Burial of First World War soldier from Essex brings 100-year-old mystery to a close

The remains of a 25-year-old First World War soldier from near Chelmsford in Essex, found more than a century after his death, have been identified and afforded a dignified burial thanks to the dedicated efforts of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and UK Ministry of Defence JCCC War Detectives.

Burial of Lance Corporal Perkins

Photo Credit: Ministry Of Defence

For more than a century Lance Corporal Frederick Thomas Perkins was listed as missing – his name commemorated on the CWGC’s Loos Memorial in France – until his remains were found in January 2018 by workmen clearing unexploded ordnance from a large building site near Lens.

CWGC Recovery Officers were called to the scene and recovered the remains together with several artefacts. The CWGC’s Steve Arnold, who attended the scene, said: “Working as CWGC’s Recovery Manager is a great honour. I am so glad that our meticulous efforts to find every piece of evidence enabled Lance Corporal Frederick Thomas Perkins to be identified. It is a privilege to be here today to see him laid to rest alongside his comrades from the Essex Regiment in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Loos British Cemetery.”

Portrait photo of Lance Corporal Perkins

Photo Credit: Brewer Family

L/Cpl Perkins was born in Great Waltham, Essex, and was killed in action on 22 April 1917. He left behind a wife, Florence, and their three-year-old son, Philip Jethro Perkins.

L/Cpl Perkins was buried with full military honours by members of the Royal Anglian Regiment in a ceremony organised by the UK Ministry of Defence JCCC War Detectives. His granddaughter, Linda Cook, was in attendance and chose the following personal inscription to be engraved on his CWGC headstone. It reads…

SON OF JAMES & ELIZABETH

HUSBAND OF FLORENCE ANNIE

FATHER OF PHILIP JETHRO

GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN

Linda said: “We always wondered what had happened to my grandfather and to be here today and seeing where he now lays is very important to me. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect that they would find him.”

Rosie Barron, from JCCC said: “The identification of Lance Corporal Perkins required meticulous research from both JCCC, and The Essex Regiment Museum and our perseverance paid off. It has been an honour to work with The Royal Anglian Regiment to lay Lance Corporal Perkins to rest and to share this experience with his family today. As we build up to Remembrance Sunday, we remember all those soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

The grave, in the same cemetery as 28 of his comrades from the Essex Regiment, four of whom died in the same action, will be cared for by the CWGC in perpetuity.

In recent years, the number of remains discovered on the former battlefields of the Western Front has increased significantly. The story of how and why this work is carried out features in the CWGC’s new visitor centre near Arras in France – the CWGC Experience. The CWGC Experience is a unique new visitor attraction that shines a light on the work of the remarkable organisation at the heart of remembrance of the war dead.