FENLAND: Historian turned detective Chris discovers forgotten grave of First World War soldier
THE grave of a First World War soldier has been discovered in a Fenland cemetery, thanks to some detective work by an amateur historian. Chris Harley had feared that Harry Thimbleby was buried in an unmarked grave, but has been thrilled to discover Harry
THE grave of a First World War soldier has been discovered in a Fenland cemetery, thanks to some detective work by an amateur historian.
Chris Harley had feared that Harry Thimbleby was buried in an unmarked grave, but has been thrilled to discover Harry's headstone underneath thick vegetation at the Station Road cemetery.
"I was over the moon to find it," said Chris, who is secretary to March branch of the Royal British Legion. "It has now been accepted as a war grave, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will now take over its care."
World War I historian Chris started his search for Harry's grave just weeks ago; he contacted the Ministry of Defence, and obtained documents to show he was a war casualty.
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"I contacted Fenland District Council, and they produced a grave reference within half an hour," he said.
"The Commonwealth War Graves Commission asked the council to clear the grave; the council has done a smashing job. I am thrilled that the future of the grave is assured. It will stay like this until is becomes illegible, and will then be replaced by a standard war grave."
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Harry Thimbleby, the son of Joseph and Annie Thimbleby of Station Road, March, died aged 22 in December 1916 of pneumonia after being wounded and suffering severe internal injuries.
Harry was an engineering apprentice at the Chatteris Engineering Works, now 'Metalcraft'. The company specialised in manufacturing mining equipment and cranes but during the war years much of its capacity was taken up in the manufacture of military equipment.
He enlisted in the Territorial Force (for four years service in the United Kingdom) on September 4 1914. He was posted to the 1st Battalion, the Cambridgeshire Regiment and served in the UK from his enlistment until July 1915 when he was sent to France. He remained on the continent until September 6 when he was repatriated.
Mr Harley says that Harry's medical report shows that in August 1915 he was buried in a collapsed trench for half an hour. He was admitted to hospital in France in November 1915, diagnosed as suffering from bronchitis and was transferred to the UK in July 1916.
Once back in the UK he was also diagnosed as suffering from pneumonia and asthma. He was finally discharged as being medically unfit for service and died less than three months later.