Fallen soldier identified a century later

Standing by the graveside of Private Anderson is Sub lt Fred Warren Smith, British Embassy; Reverend Paul van Sittert CF; Captain Gary Main; Reverend Gaenor Berkin, researcher; Max Harris, trumpeter; and a Royal British Legion standard bearer
Standing by the graveside of Private Anderson is Sub lt Fred Warren Smith, British Embassy; Reverend Paul van Sittert CF; Captain Gary Main; Reverend Gaenor Berkin, researcher; Max Harris, trumpeter; and a Royal British Legion standard bearer

A Rededication service for a fallen World War One soldier was held this week.

The service for Private John Anderson of the 4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders was held at Birr Cross Roads Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery.

It was organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), part of Defence Business Services, and conducted by The Reverend Paul van Sittert CF, Chaplain to the Highlanders (4 Scots).

Private Anderson joined the 4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders in late September 1914. He saw active service in France and Flanders landing in France in March 1915. In May he was in the trenches in the area of Vlamertinghe, West Ypres followed by marching through Ypres taking over the whole front from Hooge. Reports from a fellow soldier to his family stated he was killed in the second Battle by shellfire on 28 May 1915, aged 20-years-old.

Private Anderson was originally buried in Birr Cross Roads Cemetery as an unknown soldier of the 4th Battalion Gordon Highlanders.

An identification case was submitted to the JCCC which was later accepted on completion of their research and investigations.

Regrettably Private Anderson’s family could not attend the service.

Regimental support was provided by the antecedent Regiment The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

He is commemorated on the main village and district of Kemnay War Memorial and the Inverurie War Memorial. His brother Alexander was also killed in the Great War.

A second ceremony was held for Rifleman William Dickson Evans of The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) at Blauwepoort Farm Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery.

Sue Raftree, JCCC said: "These brave First World War soldiers fought for their country to make our lives better. It is a privilege for the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre to have organised these two very fitting services to ensure that finally these two soldiers have their own named headstones.”

Reverend Paul van Sittert CF said: “Lest we forget. Powerful words, and so much more for us that have been part of these rededication services where two previously unnamed soldiers have now been named. It is an incredible privilege and honour to have played a part. So many have paid the ultimate price, named and unnamed, yet their sacrifice will not be forgotten. We will remember them.”