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Somme gunner George Field finally gets headstone 99 years after end of WWI

An official headstone is to be erected in memory of Northfleet’s George Edward Valentine Field, a soldier who fought on the Somme during the First World War but has lain in a plain civilian grave since his death in 1918.

Andrew Marshall of Gravesham War Memorials Trust is hoping to track down relatives of Mr Field, before a ceremony is held to place the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) headstone on his grave at Northfleet cemetery.

Born in 1899 at Wycliffe Road, Northfleet, to Ellen and George Field, George was one of many brothers and sisters and grew up in Dover Road East, Northfleet.

George Edward Valentine Field, who fought as a gunner in the First World War
George Edward Valentine Field, who fought as a gunner in the First World War

He went to school in Dover Road before becoming a farmhand.

After lying about his age, George enlisted aged 16, and served as a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery during the First World War.

He was deployed throughout northern France, including positions north east of Delville Wood on the Somme, where there was heavy fighting in September 1916 following the beginning of the campaign in July.

After being gassed twice during combat, he was sent to a military hospital and diagnosed with TB before being discharged from the army in June 1917.

He died from the disease just over a year later, on October 22, 1918, at his home in Coopers Road, Perry Street, Northfleet, aged just 19.

British soldiers in the trenches of the Somme
British soldiers in the trenches of the Somme

George was laid to rest with full military honours, and his name was included on Northfleet War Memorial and All Saints’ War Memorial in Perry Street.

But for unknown reasons his name was not included on the Register with the CWGC and therefore he did not qualify for a commission headstone on his grave in Northfleet cemetery.

After his name was put forward for inclusion, George was accepted as a CWGC casualty on July 7, 2014, and the Gravesham War Memorials Trust hopes to honour him with a ceremony at a date yet to be set within the next few months.

To find out more, contact Andrew Marshall of the Gravesham War Memorials Trust at achroite@sky.com or on 07860 163 888.

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