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David Railton, Dean Ryle, St George's Chapel, General Wyatt, Tower of London collection

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Funeral of the unknown warrior at Westminster AbbeyThe idea of such a burial seems first to have come to a chaplain at the Front, the Reverend David Railton (1884-1955), when he noticed in 1916 in a back garden at Armenti??res, a grave with a rough cross on which were pencilled the words An Unknown British Soldier". In August 1920 he wrote to Dean Ryle, through whose energies this memorial was carried into effect. The body was chosen from unknown British servicemen exhumed from four battle areas, the Aisne, the Somme, Arras and Ypres. (The number of bodies exhumed varies in different accounts between four and six). The remains were brought to the chapel at St. Pol on the night of 7 November 1920. The General Officer in charge of troops in France and Flanders, Brigadier General L.J.Wyatt, with Colonel Gell, went into the chapel alone, where the bodies on stretchers were covered by Union Jacks. They had no idea from which area the bodies had come. General Wyatt selected one and the two officers placed it in a plain coffin and sealed it. The other bodies were reburied. In the morning Chaplains of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and Non-Conformist churches held a service in the chapel before the body was escorted to Boulogne. The next day the coffin was placed inside another made of oak from Hampton Court sent over from England and wrapped in the flag that David Railton had used as an altar cloth during the War (known as the Ypres or Padre's Flag, which now hangs in St George's Chapel). Within the wrought iron bands of this coffin had been placed a 16th century crusader's sword from the Tower of London collection. The coffin plate bore the inscription "A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 for King and Country". The destroyer HMS Verdun, whose ship's bell now hangs near the grave in the Abbey, transported the coffin to Dover and it was then taken by train to Victoria station in London where it rested overnight."

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Color Black & White
Keywords corec,core18,WW1,World War One,Conflict,Soldier,1920s,Victims,Funeral ,Memorial ,World War 1
Credit Mirrorpix / GIW Photos
Year 1916
Model Released No
Property Released No

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