Radio 2

Suddenly all the pieces fitted together: soldier who perished in the Great War identified after 103 years

Research by Freddy Declerck has shown that a New Zealand grave situated in Flanders Fields belongs to Captain Ernest Parry. This was reported by our colleagues of the West-Flemish regional VRT radio station Radio 2 West-Vlaanderen. The story of how all pieces were fit together, reads like a novel. 

Through his non-profit organisation "New Zealand Pilgrimage Trust" Freddy Declerck has been doing volunteer work to help identifying New Zealand soldiers that persihed in Flanders Fields for several years. There are still over 100,000 unknown soldiers in Flanders Fields. 

In an unseen effort so far, Freddy Declerck managed to put a name on the grave of an unknown soldier resting in Dochy Farm New British Cemetery in Langemark-Poelkapelle. "At a certain moment I found out that six missing captains from New Zealand were mentioned on the "Memorial to the Missing" on Tyne Cot Cemetery in Zonnebeke. I knew that a missing captain was buried on Dochy Farm, a place I know very well. Ever since I was a child I often came there. After extensive research, I managed to find out that it was Ernest Parry resting there."   

Fresh news from New Zealand became the final piece in the puzzle

Freddy's findings were sent to New Zealand. A newspaper article from 1917 served as the final piece of the puzzle there: it turned out that Parry and a sergeant were hit by a grenade in the area. 

A fragment from a diary mentioned he died on 6 October 1917. This extra information helped Freddy to come to his conclusion. "I couldn't believe it: this is the first time that a New Zealand soldier can be identified through historic research. This is very special."

The news is also important for his family, who can now come to visit the grave. Finally, a specific name can be mentioned on the grave stone. 

Radio 2
Radio 2

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