Tony Edmundson will be in Belgium next month to honour a relative killed during the First World War. Scott Stanfield photo

Comox man didn’t know about wartime relative

Soldier's remains found a century later

Tony Edmundson of Comox plans to attend a military burial next month in Belgium to honour a relative who was killed during the First World War but whose remains were discovered nearly a century later.

Private Thomas Edmundson of Sunderland, England was 20 when he was killed in action during the Battle of Second Ypres on April 26, 1915 — just seven days after crossing the English Channel to France. He and seven other members of his battalion were killed during the bombardment.

“It was sad. It was a waste of life, but war time back then was completely different,” said Tony, who was also born in Sunderland, not far from where his long lost relative had lived.

Because his body had not been recovered, Thomas’s parents had details of their son’s death recorded above their names on their gravestone in a Sunderland cemetery.

Tony found out about Thomas via email from a cousin in the UK who had contacted his aunt in Maple Ridge.

“It’s a branch of our family we didn’t even know existed,” Tony said. “We didn’t know there were more Edmundsons branching off from the 1800s.”

Thomas’s remains — including a shoulder title from the Durham Light Infantry — were recovered in 2014 in Zonnebeke, Belgium. DNA samples from the remains proved the relation after they were compared with the DNA of a surviving family member, Norman Edmundson, who is Thomas’s second cousin once removed.

“It’s getting more and more interesting as time goes on,” said Tony, whose two brothers in Alberta will also attend the ceremony in Belgium, as will cousins and other relatives in England.

The burial is planned for March 14 at the Perth Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery near Ypres, also known as the China Wall.

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