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Just before Christmas Sarah Foot who lives in St Margarets learned that the body of a relative had been found by workmen repairing a road in Voormezele in Belgium. Her great-uncle 2nd Lieutenant Eric Henderson of the Post Office Rifles had been killed on the 7th June 1917 and declared ‘missing’ following an attack on the Wytschaete-Messines Ridge, south of Ypres.
For the full account of Eric’s death read “A Great Uncle Returns” published in the St Margarets Community Website - 22nd January 2018
Through their Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre the Ministry of Defence supports a continuing service recovering ‘missing’ British and Commonwealth service personnel killed in conflict from the 1st World War right up to the Korean War in the 1950’s… and it is this small team of six dedicated people who are providing Uncle Eric with the formal military funeral that he never received in 1917.
Since the discovery of the remains Sarah and her two sisters, Lucy and Judith, have been looking through family records where they found a photograph of Eric wearing a Scout uniform. He was a member of the 1st Caterham College Troop and Scouts Farm in Surrey. There was also a copy of a letter sent to the family from the founder of the Scout Movement Robert Baden-Powell expressing his sympathy at his loss…
I have only just heard of the death in action of your son and venture to send you these few lines of very sincere sympathy.
I am sure that the manner of your son’s death must be a source of pride and comfort to you. To the Scouts of his old troop his memory will be an inspiration to carry out their duty at no matter what personal cost.
With deep sympathy in your loss which is shared by the Scout Movement, believe me.
Robert Baden Powell
On Wednesday May 16th 2018 2nd Lieutenant Eric Henderson will be buried alongside 111 of his fallen comrades in Oak Dump Cemetery on Messines Ridge south of Ypres. As well as the three sisters, Sarah, Lucy and Judith and other family members Eric will be accompanied by 6 Pall Bearers, 6 Riflemen from his old regiment, a bugler, a padre, a Senior Officer and representatives from the British Embassy in Belgium. It is expected that there will also be a sizeable contingent of local people to wish him well on his way…
"Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er, Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking; Dream of battled fields no more, Days of danger, nights of waking."
Sir Walter Scott, author and playwright
– from Martyn Day