A Scots soldier killed in WW1 is to be re-interred with full military honours


A SCOTS soldier who was killed in the Great War will be re-interred with full military honours next month.

A grave containing 20 British soldiers was found during construction work  four years ago in the northern French village of Verdin Le Vieil.

Military archaeologists have been unable to identify any of the soldiers – apart from 22-year-old Private William McAleer from Leven, Fife, whose identity disc survived almost a century underground.


Despite an MoD appeal to trace relatives of Pte McAleer he has no direct descendants and his family are believed to have emigrated after the First World War.

Pte McAleer, a member of the Royal Scottish Fusiliers, died in the Battle of Loos in 1915

His body was found together with six other members of his regiment and as well as two soldiers from the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders. Nine of the dead could not even be matched to an army unit.

The 19 unidentified soldiers will have “known unto God” written on their tombstones.

The modern 2 SCOTS battalion will give the soldiers full military honours during the ceremony in March, and representatives from other regiments will also be present.

Pte McAleer was born in Leven in Fife on 26 February 1893 but his immediate family emigrated to the United States and there are no direct descendants.

He died on 26 September 1915 shortly after the battle began.

The soldiers’ remains were found in 2010 during clearance work for the construction of new buildings near Vendin-le-Vieil, north of Arras.

The remains of 30 German soldiers were also found nearby, and these were handed over to the German authorities.

Loos Cemetery, where Pvt McAleer and the others will be buried, holds more than 3,000 soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth who died in the First World War.

The Battle of Loos saw the first British use of poison gas and took place between September and October 1915.

The battle was an attempt by the allies to break through German lines and end the stalemate of trench warfare.

But despite around 60,000 British casualties the Allies captured very little ground, and the failure saw Sir Douglas Haig take over command of British forces from Sir John french