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Forgotten Northfleet Somme veteran to be remembered with honorary headstone

PUBLISHED: 12:11 16 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:11 16 March 2017

Northfleet Cemetery

Northfleet Cemetery

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Gunner George Field died in October 1918

Gunner George Edward Valentine Field will soon be honoured for his sacrifice with a new headstone from the Commonwealth War Graves CommissionGunner George Edward Valentine Field will soon be honoured for his sacrifice with a new headstone from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

A soldier who joined the Allied fight in the First World War aged just 16 will soon be honoured for sacrifice - 99 years after his death.

Gunner George Edward Valentine Field died in October 1918 and was laid to rest at Northfleet Cemetry, but was never properly commemorated as war dead.

That is until Andrew Marshall, of the Gravesham War Memorials Trust, discovered his story and contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

“It’s inevitable that there will be some anomalies when records are made,” said Mr Marshall.

“But it is up to us who enjoy the benefit of freedom from war to ensure none are left behind or that their sacrifice ever fades.

The veteran, who was 19-years-old when he died, will be remembered for his bravery during a special service next week.

Mr Marshall will be joined at the service by some of Gunner Field’s family, MP Adam Holloway, deputy mayor Harold Craske and CWGC representatives.

Born in 1899 to Ellen and George Field, the future soldier grew up in Wycliffe Road, Northfleet, becoming a farm hand.

But at 16, he lied about his age to enlist in the army, serving as a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery on the Western Front.

During his service in the First World War, the gunner was deployed throughout northern France, even fighting during the Battle of the Somme.

He was gassed twice during active service, and was sent to a military hospital, before being diagnosed with tuberculosis.

This led to him being discharged from the army in June 1917, when he was sent home to Coopers Road Northfleet.

He died from TB on October 22, 1918. Less than three weeks later, the war was over.

The CWGC were not told of his tragic death, thus he was buried without a war grave headstone.

But at the service on Saturday 25, the teenager’s bravery will be honoured with a new headstone.

“Nearly a century on, George can now rightly be honoured for his commitment and the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country,” said Samantha Daynes, media manager at CWGC.

“Our thanks goes to Andrew Marshall who brought George’s case to the commission. We’re very grateful.

“As George’ story proves, it’s never too late to commemorate those who gave their lives during both world wars.

“Whether they died on the battlefields far from home, or back on British soil, they must all be remembered.”

Mr Marshall added: “I am so pleased that a headstone will now mark the spot where George is buried and allow his family and others from the local community to always be able to pay respect and Remembrance to him.”

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