On 31st October 1998 whilst walking round the Crater, at the far side from the entrance, Mr Drage of Colchester noticed what he thought might be the remains of a soldier, emerging from the chalk. Mr Drage later visited a local café, ‘Le Tommy’, and told the proprietor, Mr D Zanardi, who contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. After the French authorities had been informed and the relevant approvals had been given, the remains were exhumed on Tuesday 3rd November 1998 and removed to the CWGC mortuary at Beaurains.
George Nugent Cross Plaque © 2009 Peter Reed
The remains consisted of a human skeleton, the skull of which was broken. Various items of army kit were found with the remains including a rifle, bullets and water bottle, as well as personal items, including a pipe mouthpiece, a silver pen holder and a folding cut throat razor. It was the razor that held the key to identifying the remains.
Every soldier in the British Army was required to shave daily. Soldiers looked after their razors, and were extremely unlikely to loan it to another soldier. The razor found with the remains, had George’s name and service number etched into the handle, so identifying the remains as those of Private George Nugent.
George Nugent was reburied, with military honours, at Ovillers Military Cemetery on 1st July 2000, 84 years after he was killed in battle. The ceremony was led by the Principle Roman Catholic Army Chaplain, the Rt. Rev. Mgr Kevin Vasey.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lt Colonel John Mc Crae