For one Bunbury resident the history of the first World War has taken on special meaning after a long lost cousin was discovered on a Belgian battlefield and reconnected with the family.
Lee Edmundson recently found out his family was the last remaining living relatives of Thomas Telford Edmundson, a 20-year-old English soldier who enlisted for World War 1 and later died in battle.
“It was an incredible story when I heard from the War Graves Commission and the Ministry of Defence that he had been found and identified after all those years and can now be laid to rest,” he said.
“It was a terrible battle and it was the first battle where the Germans used gas so a lot of Commonwealth troops were killed with gas for the first time ever.
“He wasn’t conscripted, he was a volunteer and it was pretty early on in the war.
“To leave home at 20 and then loose his life – it’s pretty sad but it’s good that he’s finally being laid to rest.”
The body of Thomas Telford Edmundson was found in a field grave in Belgium in 2014 near the battlefield of Zonnebeke – fought in April 1915.
Ministry of Defense investigators used the date of death recorded on a marker, and a unit name found on a shoulder patch, the Durham Light Infantry to painstakingly identify him through the use of war journals, process of elimination and finally DNA testing.
Mr Edmundson moved to Australia from Sunderland, UK when he was 14 years old and has called Bunbury home for the past 11 years, describing the discovery as amazing.
“This really reties me to my English roots where I was born,” he said.
“We never knew about him - my grandfather was his second cousin.”
“It reinforces that people gave their lives for our freedoms and privileges we enjoy in our everyday world now.
“Thomas made a huge sacrifice … I will definitely bow my head and thank the guy for what he did.
“We hope his spirit will rest a little easier knowing his people have found him again.”
Thomas will be laid to rest with full military honours on March 14 at Perth Cemetery, near Ypres in Belgium.