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Captain Cecil Tuff one of two soldiers identified more than a century since the First World War

By Ed McConnell

The resting place of a Kent soldier has been discovered 104 years after he was killed in battle.

Captain Cecil Thomas Tuff, of Rochester, was one of two First World War veterans whose final resting place has been traced.

The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment 1st Battalion member died on April 18 1915 as part of the fight to retake Hill 60 which overlooked the Belgian town of Ypres. He was 29.

Captain Cecil Thomas Tuff (10379451)
Captain Cecil Thomas Tuff (10379451)

His body remained on Hill 60 until after the Great War when he was recovered and buried in Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery as an unknown captain. His name was etched on to the Menin Gate in Ypres.

A rededication service was held for Capt Tuff on the Western Front at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery, Belgium yesterday.

His great niece Prunella Scarlett LVO,who attended the rededication service with her brother Geoffrey Tuff, said: “The Tuff family is thrilled that the grave of our great uncle Cecil has been found.

"We are so grateful to all those involved in the research, particularly the researcher Martin Stoneham, whose initiative it was after reading the names on his local First World War memorial.”

Geoffrey Tuff lays a wreath at the graveside of his great uncle Capt Tuff at Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery (10379453)
Geoffrey Tuff lays a wreath at the graveside of his great uncle Capt Tuff at Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery (10379453)

The location of his burial came to light after research by the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre and the National Army Museum into two 'Unknown Soldier' graves.

The resting place of Captain Eric Wilson Edwards, of The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment, was also located.

Capt Edwards, of Lee, in south London, was a partner in the firm Braikenridge & Edwards Solicitors and in January 1916 was commissioned into the regiment's 6th Battalion.

He was killed on November 30, 1917 at Heudicourt, south of Cambrai, France.

His battalion had been ordered to consolidate a defensive position which the enemy had broken through. Upon reaching the position, they dug in, but were unable to stop the advance. It was during this attack that Captain Edwards went missing. He was 26.

After the war, Captain Edwards was buried in Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery as an unknown Captain. He was commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval.

Andrew Knowles-Brown, great nephew of Capt Edwards, said: “How do I feel – humbled, surprised, saddened and elated! None of my living family ever met Eric.

"My grandfather, Lewis, died when I was in my early teens, so it was only when I started looking at my family history that I found out about Eric.

"Now I am happy, happy to know Eric has a place and has been in a cemetery for a little over 101 years, even though it was not known.

"My youngest daughter is the same age as Eric was when he made his final sacrifice, for his future relations, who he would never know.”

His rededication was held at Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery, France earlier today.

The Revd Ian Kemp CF conducts the rededication service for Capt Edwards at Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery (10379455)
The Revd Ian Kemp CF conducts the rededication service for Capt Edwards at Gouzeaucourt New British Cemetery (10379455)

Both services, which were organised by the JCCC, were conducted by the Reverend Ian Kemp CF, Chaplain to 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

Members of The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, the antecedent regiment to both The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment were present at them.

Rosie Barron, of the JCCC, said: “Both of these men gave their lives in the service of their country and left behind families who mourned their loss.

"It has been a privilege to organise these two rededication services, to complete their stories and to share these experiences with the families of Capt Tuff and Capt Edwards.”

The Reverend Ian Kemp CF said: “A little over 100 years ago these two officers gave their all for our country and so being able to honour their sacrifice in the rededication in their respective graves is both a great privilege and the least we can do in response.”

Gareth Hardware, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's head of horticulture for Western Europe, said: “It is a privilege to rededicate the graves of Captains Tuff and Edwards in the presence of their families.

"Commemorated on a Memorial to the Missing for almost 100 years, the identification of their last resting places enables the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to renew our commitment to care for their graves, in perpetuity.”

Two new headstones have been provided by the CWGC.

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