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Hope that articles could get headstone for Great War boy soldier Harry

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 07, 2014

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TWO jaded newspaper clippings from 1914 could prove key in a bid to get build a gravestone on the plot of a forgotten Great War boy soldier.

It is hoped the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) will accept articles from the Burton Daily Mail and Burton Observer from 1914 as proof that 17-year-old Harry Davies served in the army.

The teenage Tommy, of Broadway Street, Burton, was buried in an unmarked plot in Stapenhill Cemetery in September 1914 after he died from pneumonia.

It is unclear why his grave was not marked with a headstone, but efforts to prove Harry served in the army have been hampered because early records of his time in the forces are missing.

Military historian Malcolm Goode uncovered the tragic tale as part of a book on Burton men who died in 1914.

He told the Mail he hoped the articles would provide all the evidence needed to provide Harry with a lasting and fitting memorial.

Mr Goode said: “The proof I have got to get is that he was in the army.

“But in the absence of any official records, the only thing I have got which will be accepted are articles in the Burton Daily Mail and Burton Observer.”

Mr Goode also said the details about Harry’s death must match information given on his death certificate.

He said: “I’m fairly sure this will be enough evidence, as long the death certificate corroborates what the articles say.”

The first article, printed in the Burton Daily Mail on September 30, 1914, said Private Davies, a former engine cleaner at Bass and Co, died at his home from pneumonia.

Another two identical articles, printed in the Burton Daily Mail and Burton Observer, on October 3, and October 8, was a report of his funeral

It was reported that members of the 1/6 North Staffordshire regiment carried the coffin.

Mr Goode has previously said he felt it was ‘not right’ that Harry had been buried without a proper headstone.

He said: “If it is at all possible, Harry should be given a marked grave.”

A spokesman from the CWGC said the commission was looking into the case.

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