Our Unknown Soldier

 

On 20 February 2016 the remains of a British soldier of the Great War were unearthed near the French town of Auchy-les-Mines by members of The Durand Group, a team researching the underground relics – dugouts, tunnels and mines – of the First World War. At Auchy, the Durand archaeologists were exploring an entrance to the once fearsome German fortress, the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

Here, the Hohenzollern Redoubt still conjures up memories of devastating casualties suffered by the two territorial battalions of the Leicestershire Regiment in an attack on the fortress on 13 October 1915. This link was literally spelled out when it was found that, attached to a few tattered threads of khaki on the soldier, was the battered shoulder title: LEICESTER.

No effort was spared to identify the soldier. The Ministry of Defence, the Regiment and the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland (where the Regiment’s archives are housed) were all contacted. Was the Unknown Soldier  from the 4th Battalion (recruited in Leicester and its suburbs) or the 5th (County) Battalion? Was there anything amongst the remains with a name or number?

Sadly, it proved impossible to identify the unknown ‘Tiger’.  Although a treasure trove of  buttons, buckles and personal items (from a mug and spoon to the coins in his pocket) were unearthed, none gave any clue as to identity. There was no identity disk, no inscribed watch or cigarette case, and no personal papers had survived in the wet earth.

Thanks to the kindness of the Royal Tigers Association the Record Office is now able to put on display some of the artefacts found beside that Unknown Soldier of our County Regiment. Alongside a display on the battle, visitors can see personal relics and rusted pieces of equipment from that most fateful day of 1915.

For more details contact: Robin Jenkins or Jenny Moran on (0116 257 1080) or through This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The Display is freely accessible during Office opening hours at The Record Office, Long Street, Wigston. LE18 2AH.

 

Robin P Jenkins

Senior Archivist (Collections),

Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland,

Long Street,

Wigston Magna,

Leics.

LE18 2AH