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Graves of Six Soldiers of the Welsh Regiment Identified on the Western Front

The military party stand behind the headstone of L/Cpl Dowding

Image: The military party stand behind the headstone of L/Cpl Dowding (Photo: Crown Copyright)

The graves of six soldiers from Welsh regiments, who went missing in France and Belgium during World War One, have now been marked more than a century after their deaths.

Though all had been buried at the times of their deaths, their names had been lost. Their graves were only identified recently after researchers submitted cases to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC).

Further research by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), also known as the ‘MOD War Detectives’, the CWGC, and the National Army Museum, used sources such as war diaries, service records, grave registration reports and other documents.

Following this the original findings were confirmed allowing each soldier to be commemorated by name. 

The family of Captain Nichols stand with the military party following the service of his reburial.

Image: The family of Captain Nichols stand with the military party following the service (Photo: Crown Copyright)

The grave rededication services were organised by JCCC and saw named headstones provided for Second Lieutenant (2/Lt) Noel Osbourne Jones, 2/Lt Herbert Taggart, Private (Pte) Lionel Grove and Captain (Capt) Clifford Nichols, all of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, as well as Lance Corporal (L/Cpl) Arthur Dowding of the Monmouthshire Regiment and Pte George Price of the South Wales Borderers. 

The services were attended by serving soldiers and representatives of The Royal Welsh. 

The services were held at CWGC’s Bellicourt British Cemetery, France (2 July), Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, France (2 July), Bedford House Cemetery, Belgium (3 July) and Chester Farm Cemetery, Belgium (3 July). The family of Captain Nichols attended. 

JCCC Caseworker, Alexia Clark, said:

“Researching these six men and getting to know their individual war stories has been a fascinating journey. It has been a privilege to have played a part in the conclusion of those stories and to know that their families finally have answers to what happened to them.” 

2/Lt Noel Osborne-Jones, 2/Lt Herbert Taggart, and Pte Lionel Grove were all killed on 8 May 1916 whilst conducting a trench raid. Their bodies were recovered by the Germans and buried by them at Fournes, before being moved to the Cabaret Rouge Cemetery after the war.

Unfortunately, the Germans did not know their names, and as such they identified their bodies only by rank and regiment. Following the war all three men were named on the Memorial to the Missing at Loos. 

L/Cpl Dowding was killed in action near Ramicourt in October 1918, just weeks before the end of the war. Although he was buried at the time of his death, key information about his grave was lost in the chaos of conflict, and after the war he was named on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial. 

Captain Nichols was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele on 31 July 1917. At the time of his death, he was listed as a member of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers who had been attached to 164 Machine Gun Company.

His body was recovered from an unmarked field grave near Spree Farm in 1923, and his rank and regiment were identified by his buttons and badges.

Unfortunately, there was nothing to indicate his name at the time and he was buried as an unknown officer. Following the war, Capt. Nichols was commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres. 

Private Price was killed in action near Hill 60, Belgium in October 1917. He was originally buried in a field grave, but by the end of the war anything which recorded his name had been lost. He was commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing.  

The services were conducted by the Reverend Robert Mutter CF, Chaplain to 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh. 

Padre Richard Mutter leads the service for 2/Lt Osborne Jones, 2/Lt Taggart and Pte Grove.

Image: Padre Richard Mutter leads the service for 2/Lt Osborne Jones, 2/Lt Taggart and Pte Grove (Photo: Crown Copyright)

The Reverend Robert Mutter CF said:

"To restore the names to these young men and to honour their sacrifice here in this place is a very special thing. I am pleased to have led these services of rededication and to help close the final chapter of these men's stories."

The headstones over the graves were replaced by CWGC. 

Xavier Puppinck, France Area Director at CWGC, said:

"It is an honour for the CWGC to care for the graves of these six valiant soldiers of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the Monmouthshire Regiment and the South Wales Borderers who went missing in France and Belgium during World War One. They paid the ultimate price whilst fighting on the Western Front, more than 100 years ago. And now, it is our privilege and duty to care for their graves in perpetuity.” 

Second Lieutenant Herbert Taggart 1895 – 1916  

2nd Lieutenant Herbert Taggert Image: 2/Lt Taggart (supplied by the Royal Welch Fusiliers Regimental Museum) 

Herbert Taggart was born in 1895 on the Isle of Man. He was the third of five children born to James Taggart, a Draper, and his wife Isabella. By the time of the 1911 census Herbert and his older brother William were both boarders at King Williams College, Isle of Man.   
In 1913 Herbert emigrated from the UK to Canada, arriving in Nova Scotia in April of that year and stating that he had been involved in the timber trade in the UK, and intended to continue working in that field.  
In September 1914 Herbert joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force, stating his previous experience in the Officer Training Corps of his school. He was assigned to the 9th Bn Canadian Infantry, before joining the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. At the time of his death Herbert was attached to the 15th Bn from the 11th Bn.   

Second Lieutenant Noel Osborne Jones 1895 – 1916  

2/Lt Osborne Jones (right) with his brother David and their mother Ada Image: 2/Lt Osborne Jones (right) with his brother David and their mother Ada (supplied by his family) 

Noel Osborne Jones was born in 1895 in Cardiganshire, South Wales to Robert Osborne Jones and his wife Ada. 

Robert was a School Master, and by the time of the 1901 census the family were living in the Tregaron area with four sons; David George, Robert Noel, Martin Thomas and Iorwerth Hywel.

By 1911 they had moved to the Ystrad Meurig area where their descendants still live today. 

Private Lionel Smart Grove 1896 – 1916  

Lionel Smart Grove was born in Watford on 7 December 1896. 

He was the middle child of Walter Grove and his wife Elizabeth, though his older brother Leslie and younger sister Gladys both died in childhood. 

Lionel’s father was an auctioneer in 1901, though by the 1911 census he had become an estate agent, and the family had moved to Oxhey.

In 1912 Lionel began work as a boy clerk in the Post Sorting Office at Mount Pleasant.  

Whilst Lionel’s service record no longer survives, we know from his medal card that he signed up war service as a volunteer and embarked for France on 3 December 1915 with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.    

Arthur James Dowding 1888 – 1918  

Arthur James Dowding was born in Monmouthshire, the seventh of eight children born to William Dowding, a gardener, and his wife Emily.

By 1901 Arthur was working as a telegraph messenger boy for the post office, and a few years later he is recorded as a postman in the Abergavenny area.  

Arthur joined the army on 4 August 1914, the day war broke out. In June 1915 he received a gunshot wound to the shoulder, though he returned to the battalion soon after.

In late 1915 he married Mildred Day. 

In 1916 he suffered several bouts of trench fever alongside other minor health complaints, and in early 1917 he was awarded a Good Conduct Badge.   

Captain Clifford Nichols 1890 – 1917 

Captain Nichols Image: Captain Nichols (supplied by his family)

Clifford Nichols was born in Harborne, Birmingham in 1890, one of four children born to Joseph Nichols and his wife Emily. 

He was educated at Dudley Grammar School and King’s Cathedral School, Worcester before qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1912.   

He enlisted in the army in November 1914 and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in December.

He transferred to the 164th Machine Gun Company in 1917, serving with them in France and Flanders from January of that year.  

Private George Montague Price 1878 – 1916  

George Montague Price was born in Herefordshire in 1878. He was the fourth and youngest child of Andrew Price, a builder, and his wife Alice. Prior to the war George was a stonemason, though he joined the army in May 1916.  

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