THE discovery of a century old spoon and other artefacts have led to the military burial of an Essex Soldier more than 100 years later.

As a result of some serious detective work by experts the family of Lance Corporal Frederick Thomas Perkins, of the 11th Battalion the Essex Regiment were able to attend a service which quite rightly honoured him a century later.

The ceremony took place at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Loos British Cemetery, near Lens, France with his family in attendance and was organised by the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC)

Known as the MOD War Detectives, the team also works to identify the remains of any British fallen soldiers which are found.

Which is exactly what they did in the case of Frederick.

Rosie Barron of the JCCC explains the identification required meticulous research by both themselves and the Essex Regiment Museum in Chelmsford.

“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.”

Current members of the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment paid their own tribute by providing both the bearer and firing parties for the service, which was conducted by the Reverend Paul Whitehead CF, Chaplain to 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment.

The Rev Whitehead said: “It was a great honour to put Lance Corporal Perkins to rest.

“It was a real privilege and amazing that all of the research undertaken has led to him being found a century later.”

The team discovered Frederick was born in Great Waltham, which is near Chelmsford, and killed in action on 22 April 1917 aged 25.

He left behind his wife Florence and their three-year-old son, Philip Jethro Perkins.

To honour his memory, family members including his granddaughter, Linda Cook, and his great nephew, Tony Brewer, attended the service.

Frederick’s remains were discovered at the site of a new hospital being built to the north of Lens in January of last year.

Along with Frederick were a spoon and part of a notebook which following a lengthy process of research by the JCCC were most likely to be those of a soldier of the 11th Battalion the Essex Regiment who had been killed in that area in 1917.

Steve Arnold, Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Recovery Manager said:

“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 Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Loos British Cemetery.”

The JCCC worked with a group of researchers at The Essex Regiment Museum before DNA testing was carried out which finally confirmed it was Frederick.

Major Peter Williamson, Chairman of the Trustees of the Essex Regiment Museum, who is now retired from the army, said he was so pleased to be able to help identify Frederick.

“He was an ordinary man from our county town of Chelmsford who answered the call to defend freedom early in World War One and paid the ultimate price.

“We will now be able to give him a proper soldier’s burial alongside his comrades.

“Even today their sacrifice inspires us all to do better.”

The grave will now be marked by a headstone provided by the CWGC, which will care for his final resting place in perpetuity, he added.

Following the discovery of the remains of British Service personnel from historic conflicts, the MOD attempts to identify any living relatives so they can be involved in the subsequent re-interment and memorial service.

It also puts up a named headstone and then the JCCC attempts to get in touch with family and give them a proper and fitting send off.

JCCC also answers enquiries relating to individual historic military fatalities and co-ordinates investigations following the discovery of human remains of British service personnel killed in First World War and Second World War.

Historical aspects relating to casualties from all Services can range from tracing relatives of aircrew who were lost in battle in the war years where remains have been discovered, to answering queries about entries in books of remembrance.

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