Soldiers laid to rest with full honours

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THREE Scottish soldiers have been laid to rest with full military honours almost 100 years after they went missing in action during the First World War.

Their remains were discovered during excavations at a brick-works in the Belgian village of Zonnebeke. Military historians believe the soldiers died on 20 September 1917, the first day of the Battle of the Menin Ridge Road.

The men were finally laid to rest last week in a military ceremony at the Tyne Cot cemetery in Belgium, near where they fell.

They were part of the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force (SAOEF) 4th regiment, also known as the South African Scottish, as it was recruited from the 1st and 2nd Transvaal Scottish and the Cape Town Highlanders.

Experts believe that the 4th’s Scottish connections resulted in all of the SAOEF being attached to the 9th Scottish Division during the Great War.

Lynelle Howson, assistant historian of the Commonwealth Graves Commission, said that the 4th’s uniform had been a vital clue to their Scottish ­connection.

She said: “Badges are usually the place that you start when identifying remains, but a small amount of cloth bearing the Atholl tartan was found among the remains, and that was the tartan worn by the 4th South African Infantry Regiment of the South African Brigade in the 9th Scottish Division specifically during the war.”

She added, however, that there was no way to identify the men individually based on the items found among the remains.