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Soldier's remains prove a mystery.

Byline: By Peter Taylor

Doubts have been raised over whether a soldier's remains found in the mud of Flanders are those of Northumberland Fusilier William Storey.

The remains of five British servicemen were found in a series of well-preserved trenches in November last year during a dig to make way for a motorway extension through the Belgian countryside near Ypres.

One of them was thought to be Lance Corporal Storey from Blyth, a Northumberland Fusilier of the Fifth Battalion, who is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as having been killed in action on October 26, 1917.

L-Cpl Storey is thought to have died during the third battle of Ypres, known as Passchendaele.

But experts at the site now think the soldier may have been killed in the second battle, which was around two years earlier.

Captain Tony Adamson, Northumberland secretary of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and chairman of their museum trustees, said he had been told that the body may be that of a soldier who fell in the first battle of Ypres.

Capt Adamson said: "All I know is that it's a possibility that it is Lance Corporal Storey and not a probability.

`'I have also been told this soldier could be one of more than a hundred that fell at one stage in the second battle of Ypres in 1915 which was around two years earlier.

`'It might be one of those soldiers and it might not. We are just waiting for more information."

But a spokesman for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission would only say: "The speculation over the name is possibly premature, to say the least.

"Out of the sets of remains found, three have been authorised for burial as unknown soldiers.

"The other remains are still being held pending further inquiries by the Ministry of Defence."

The three bodies to be interred will be buried tomorrow with representatives of the British government in attendance.

They are being placed in graves dedicated to the Unknown Soldier after inquiries have failed to yield any clue to their identities.

Archaeologists have been carefully documenting the contents of the series of well-preserved trenches they uncovered.

The bodies were lying under just 3ft of soil beneath a farmer's beet field and were still clad in uniforms and boots with artefacts including rifles, tobacco pipes and personal effects scattered about.

The son of Robert and Elspet Ann Storey, formerly of 9 High Quay, L-Cpl Storey's name is recorded on the Tyne Cot Memorial at Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen in Belgium, dedicated to those men whose bodies were never found.

The Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world with 11,952 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated there.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said that of the five sets of remains found, three are to be buried tomorrow as there is no possibility of identifying them.

She added: "Further investigations will take place regarding the other remains. If we are going to identify them, we need to be 100% certain."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 21, 2004
Words:510
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