World War I hero’s grave dis­cov­ered

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - News - BY JOANNE WARNOCK

They re­main heart­break­ing sto­ries even af­ter more than a cen­tury.

On July 1, 1916 a young soldier from Ban­chory was killed at the Bat­tle of the Somme and his dev­as­tated fam­ily were in­formed his body had not been re­cov­ered.

Sergeant Charles Leighton, 23, was among the troops, who stormed the French vil­lage of Mametz and was with the 2nd Bat­tal­ion of the Gor­don High­landers.

He was one of the many to per­ish and it was feared he was lost for ever. But now, 100 years later, his great nephew has made the star­tling dis­cov­ery of find­ing his grave.

Aberdeen Univer­sity grad­u­ate, Iain Leighton, 65, had been fas­ci­nated by the story of his great-un­cle and feels as if the fam­ily fi­nally has some clo­sure. He said: “His mother and fa­ther re­ceived a tele­gram in­form­ing them that Charles was miss­ing pre­sumed killed – his mother in par­tic­u­lar was dev­as­tated.”

Keen to delve into the story of his an­ces­tor, Mr Leighton asked some friends, who were vis­it­ing France, to try and learn more about the Gor­don High­landers’ ac­tiv­ity at the Somme.

To his amaze­ment, they quickly found the Gor­don ceme­tery at Mametz – and the head­stone of his grea­tun­cle. He said: “When I got the mes­sage from them, you could have knocked me over with a feather!”

Ruth Dun­can, cu­ra­tor of the Gor­don High­landers Mu­seum in Aberdeen, said: “It is my un­der­stand­ing that so many died in quick suc­ces­sion on that first day, they had nowhere to put the bod­ies, but re­turn them to the trench they had come out of.”

The reg­i­ment suf­fered greatly, los­ing 135 men from the 2nd Bat­tal­ion alone on that one day, and 3,937 ca­su­al­ties for the en­tire Bat­tle of the Somme.

Mr Leighton, a re­tired so­lic­i­tor, now plans to make the trip to France him­self to pay his re­spects along with some other fam­ily mem­bers.

He said: “I don’t know why the true po­si­tion was not com­mu­ni­cated to his par­ents, but at least we now know the truth.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.