Mystery of where Ilkeston soldier is buried is solved

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The mystery of where a world War One solider from Ilkeston was buried has been uncovered.

John Chapman, from the Friends of Park Cemetery, had been trying to make sure the death of Private Peter Samuel Smedley of the Sherwood Foresters Notts and Derby Regiment, was officially commemorated.

He wrote to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which has told him it would appear that Private Smedley was killed in Belgium during the Battle of Passchendaele and was buried behind the frontline.

David Royle, commemorations officer, said: “This is suggested within the newspaper article when it is recorded that ‘…we have buried your husband just behind the front line…’

“As Private Smedley lost his life in Passchendaele during 1917 and the location of his grave is not known, it is appropriate that his place of commemoration would be on the Tyne Cot Memorial; this being the Memorial to the Missing specifically for casualties who died in the Ypres Salient but who have no known grave. Whilst it may not have been engraved yet, he has been added to this memorial on our website.”

The letter went on to say that what had been discovered in plot 7973 within Park Cemetery is a private memorial of Private Smedley rather than his actual place of burial.

It stated: “Following the death of a loved one in the war, families sometimes decided to create their own commemoration on a family grave or via a memorial stone within a local churchyard/cemetery.

“Due to the fact that the casualties, such as Private Smedley, died on the Continent it was often not possible or affordable for the family to travel to visit the grave or memorial.”

The CWGC will not inspect the family grave located in Park Cemetery.

An open afternoon will be held at Park Road Cemetery on Saturday between 1pm and 4pm. The event will include live music from Julie May, hot drinks and homemade cakes.