A MILITARY historian claims he has ‘absolute proof’ a forgotten Great War boy soldier served in the Army – a find which is hoped will strengthen calls for him to receive a headstone.
First World War expert Malcolm Goode told the Mail he discovered attestation papers for Private Harry Davies in the military pension records.
For the last 100 years, the 17-year-old soldier, of Broadway Street, Burton, has lain in an unmarked pauper’s plot in Stapenhill Cemetery after he died from pneumonia in September 1914.
But Mr Goode is collecting evidence to send to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which must be convinced Pte Davies died as a serving soldier before a headstone is built.
Mr Goode told the Mail: “Finding his attestation paper, all be it only the front page, gives absolute proof Harry Davies was in the Territorial Force at the beginning of the war.
“In fact, up and to his death he had been a member of the 1/6 North Staffordshire Regiment for about 18 months.
“The paper confirms his mother’s name and address, and most importantly his serial number, which was 1956.”
The latest discovery joins two articles from the Burton Daily Mail and Burton Observer on Pte Davies’ death and burial which will also be submitted as evidence to the CWGC.
Mr Good is also waiting for a copy of the a death certificate which is hoped will match information in the articles and attestation papers.
Once all the evidence is collected and submitted to the CWGC, Mr Goode said he hoped a headstone could be provided for September 29 – 100 years after Pte Davies died.
He said: “I think that should be done with all due pomp and circumstance, after all he has only waited 100 years to be remembered.”
The CWGC had previously told the Mail a death certificate which matched the two newspaper articles would make a ‘strong case’.
After the latest find, a spokesman said: “The more evidence he can find then the stronger the case will be.
“A death certificate will be vital, but all the paperwork together could make a strong case.”
The spokesman said he was unable say how long the process could take to provide a headstone.