Unknown soldier no more: World War I gravestone gets a name

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Colonel Howard Wilkinson, Military Attache, British Embassy Paris, puts a French flag on the grave of Second Lieutnant Osmund Bartle Wordsworth during a Rededication Service, in the cemetery of Ecoust-Saint-Mein, northern France, Tuesday, June. 21, 2022. Wordsworth was killed in action at the Battle of Arras on April 2, 1917. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)

ECOUST-SAINT-MEIN – For more than a century, the British soldier lay in an anonymous grave, one of so many unidentified victims buried beneath the killing fields of World War I.

But now, his headstone finally bears a name: 2nd Lt. Osmund Bartle Wordsworth — a great-great-nephew of English poet William Wordsworth — who was recently identified by DNA research, and given a funeral ceremony Tuesday, 105 years after he died.

A new headstone for Wordsworth, who was killed in action in the Battle of Arras on April 2, 1917, was mounted at his gravesite at a cemetery in Ecoust-Saint-Mein in northern France. A cleric led the ceremony, and a British military attache handed Wordsworth's relatives a carefully folded French flag to place on the grave.

The evolution of DNA technology has allowed for the identification of more and more unknown soldiers from World War I. A service will be held for others in Ypres, Belgium, next week.