THE grave of a soldier from Stockbridge has been rededicated more than a hundred years after he died, following investigations by a historian.

Earlier this month the grave of Lance Corporal (LCpl) Owen James Munday of 15th (Hampshire Yeomanry) Battalion The Hampshire Regiment was honoured during a special service.

LCpl Munday’s grave was rededicated alongside those of Private (Pte) Leonard George Holiday of the same battalion and Sapper (Spr) Stanley Evelyn Barnden of 17th Field Company Royal Engineers.

Spr Barnden was born in Walton-le-Soken, Essex. He was a pre-war regular soldier, often referred to as the ‘Old Contemptibles’, who formed the British Expeditionary Force sent to the Western Front on the outbreak of war. He was killed on December 12, 1914 near Neuve-Église in Belgium aged 25.

It was during fighting four years later that LCpl Munday, 26, was killed on October 22, 1918, and Pte Holiday, 19, from Drayton St Leonards in Oxfordshire, was killed on October 26, 1918, just weeks before the cessation of hostilities. They were recorded as missing and commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

The services, which were organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), also known as the ‘MOD War Detectives’, were held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Kandahar Farm Cemetery, Heestert Military Cemetery and Vichte Military Cemetery respectively, all in Belgium. 

The services were attended by serving soldiers of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment 35 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, and veterans from the Hampshire Regiment Association. 

The graves of all three men were identified after researchers submitted evidence suggesting that their graves had been located. After further research by CWGC, the National Army Museum and MOD JCCC, it was confirmed as part of MOD JCCC’s adjudication process that these men had in fact been found.

The initial evidence concerning the graves of LCpl Munday and Pte Holiday was submitted by Michiel Vanmarcke, a local Belgian student with a passion for First World War history. Michiel attended the services along with members of his family.

Michiel said: “I am deeply honoured to have contributed to the identifications of L/Cpl Munday and Private Holiday. As a 21-year-old Belgian who grew up in the area where both these men were killed, I feel some sort of connection with them. Seeing Munday and Holiday honoured today, a few years after handing over my initial report, really is the cherry on the cake.

“What truly matters is that two more missing heroes have been found, and that their relatives have the closure they deserve.”  

The headstones over their graves will now be replaced by the CWGC.    

Geert Bekaert, CWGC director for the Central and Southern European Area said: “It’s a privilege to be present at the rededication of the grave of Lance Corporal Owen James Munday, his final resting place enabling us to renew our commitment to care for Commonwealth graves, in perpetuity.

“Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated researcher, we are also delighted and honoured to mark the grave of Private Leonard George Holiday, who is buried in the CWGC’s Vichte Military Cemetery. And finally, to honour and respect Sapper Stanley Evelyn Barnden, who was previously recorded as missing and commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium.”