British WWI soldier finally laid to rest more than a century after death as remains discovered in Ypres

The morning sun falls across the names of those commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. Photographer: Sgt Adrian Harlen © Crown copyright OGL.

A British soldier who died in the First World War will finally be laid to rest today (Wednesday), more than 100 years after his death.

Lance Corporal Robert Cook will receive full military honours at a ceremony in Belgium after his identity was confirmed by experts.

Lance Corporal Cook died aged 38 on May 2 in 1915 among tens of thousands of Britons who lost their lives during intensive fighting around Ypres in Belgium.

Born in 1876 in Bishop Wilton, Yorkshire, L/Cpl Cook was one of seven children and served with 2nd Battalion The Essex Regiment. L/Cpl Cook also served in the Boer War and in South Africa.

He will be buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) New Irish Farm Cemetery near Ypres this afternoon with his great-nephew and great-niece in attendance.

Also present to honour the fallen soldier will be members of C “Essex” Company of 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment – the modern equivalent of L/Cpl Cook’s regiment.

His body, like that of so many of his fallen comrades, had been missing for a century and his name inscribed on the Menin Gate memorial to the missing.

Between 2014 and 2015, the remains of 24 soldiers were found during construction work on the outskirts of Ypres, near what is believed to have been a Regimental Aid Post during the war.

All but one of the soldiers have since been buried following investigations by the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) also known as the War Detectives.

The final set of remains was found with a medal ribbon bar, shoulder titles and a cap badge of The Essex Regiment with an investigation showing they were likely to be L/Cpl Cook.

The Ypres Salient was formed in October and November 1914, when a small British Expeditionary Force succeeded in securing the town before the onset of winter, pushing German forces back.

The names of more than 54,000 men are inscribed on the Menin Gate in Ypres, a monument to those fallen whose graves are not known.

To this day, tens of thousands of those who fell in Flanders fields, including during the five battles of Ypres, have never been found.


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