101 years on from their death, the graves of two soldiers killed in the First World War have been rededicated with full military honours.
The ceremony took place at the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery in France, where Lieutenant Leonard Cameron Kidd MC and Second Lieutenant Fenton Ellis Stanley Phillips MC were finally laid to rest.
Their graves had previously been marked in the traditional style of the unknown soldier with an inscription reading “A British Airman of the Great War”.
Lieutenant Kidd and Second Lieutenant Phillips were killed on October 12th, 1916.
They were members of 3 Squadron RFC and had flown out of the RFC Aerodrome at La Houssoye at around 13:50 in a Morane Parasol reconnaissance aircraft.
Although the exact details of what occurred after are not known, it is believed that the pair were shot down by anti-aircraft fire between Gueudecourt and Eaucourt L’Abbaye.
Their whereabouts would remain a mystery for the next century until research by retired Royal Canadian Navy Officer Lieutenant Commander Steve St Amant revealed the location of their graves at the French cemetery.
The service, organised by the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) was attended by personnel from the current RAF 3 Fighter Squadron, with the ceremony conducted by the squadron’s Chaplain.
Lieutenant Commander St Amant was present alongside other representatives from the Royal Canadian Navy.
The UK Embassy in Paris, Standard Bearers from the Royal British Legion, local dignitaries, and the Head Teacher and pupils from Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire, which was attended by Lieutenant Kidd, all came to pay their respects.
Rev Fr Flight Lieutenant James Mealy said:
“It is truly an honour and privilege to be part of this rededication service for Lieutenant Kidd and Second Lieutenant Philips.
“They are remarkable and brave young officers who gave their everything so we can enjoy our today.
“Also, as the 3 (Fighter) Squadron Padre, it is especially meaningful to me, to finally give these two men the honour and blessing that they deserve and give praise and thanksgiving to God for the sacrifice they gave for us.
“Their names will continue to live on.”
Simon Bergg, Second Lieutenant Phillips’ great nephew who attended the ceremony, said:
“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to pay our respects to our great uncle at this Rededication Ceremony.
“It means a great deal to us that he no longer rests in an unmarked grave.
“We are also very thankful for the time and effort that Steve St Amant invested to unearth the history that has enabled this ceremony to take place.
“Through all of this, we have learned so much about our Great Uncle and how he brought pleasure and joy to those around him during his short life, even during times of conflict.”
Tracey Bowers, who works for the JCCC, said:
“It is only right and fitting that these two exceptionally brave men now have a named grave. It is humbling that so many people have travelled from so far away to attend today’s ceremony”