British WWI hero finally laid to rest in Belgium

British war hero honoured in Belgium.

First world War hero honoured in Belgium. Credit: Crown Copyright/Gov.UK

More than 100 years after his death, the final resting place of a First World War  soldier from Leeds has been formally recognised.

On March 21, a rededication ceremony for Lieutenant (Lt) Charles Stewart Cautherley of the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment took place.

This significant event, held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Poelcapelle British Cemetery, was the culmination of extensive research by the Ministry Of Defence (MOD)’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), also known as the ‘MOD War Detectives’.

A soldier’s story

In 1923, the unclaimed remains of an officer from the Hertfordshire Regiment were unearthed from a battlefield burial near Voormezele. His identity was hinted at through the distinctive uniform and buttons found with him.

These remains, initially buried without a name, have now been conclusively identified as those of Lt Cautherley, thanks to new investigations.

Lt Cautherley, who initially served with the Honourable Artillery Company from 1909 until 1915, became an officer in the Hertfordshire Regiment in October 1915.

By April 1916, he was actively serving in the 1st Battalion and, despite suffering from shell shock in September 1916, quickly returned to his unit.

A legacy honoured

On April 10, 1918, Lt Cautherley rejoined his battalion, having previously spent time with the First Army Provosts. Tragically, he was killed in action just two weeks later, during a defensive skirmish near Voormezele.

His burial site went unrecorded at the time, and he was commemorated on the CWGC’s Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing until now.

JCCC Caseworker, Alexia Clark said: ‘I am pleased to have been involved in identifying the final resting place of Lt Cautherley. In rededicating his grave today, we have reunited his mortal remains with his name, ensuring that his sacrifice will not be forgotten.’

The ceremony, led by the Reverend Tom Sander, Chaplain to the Household Cavalry, included attendees from the Royal Anglian Regiment. ‘Today we rededicate the grave of Lt Cautherley, in recognition and in memory of the sacrifice made in the cause of war.

‘We commend him into the hands of Almighty God and continue to pray for the peace which the world cannot give,’ he concluded.

CWGC’s commitment to preserving the memory of Lt Cautherley was affirmed by Mel Donnelly, Head of Commemorations, who expressed, ‘We are deeply honoured to rededicate the grave of Lieutenant Charles Stewart Cautherley.

‘His memory shall endure eternally under our watchful care and commitment. His sacrifice and service are indelibly etched in both history and stone at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Poelcapelle British Cemetery.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.