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105 years after he died, buried World War I soldier identified through DNA

Honoring the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Sentinels reflect on honor of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on its 100th anniversary 05:22

For more than a century, the British soldier lay in an anonymous grave, one of so many unidentified victims buried beneath the killing fields of World War I.

But now, his headstone finally bears a name: 2nd Lt. Osmund Bartle Wordsworth — a great-great-nephew of English poet William Wordsworth - who was recently identified by DNA research, and given a funeral ceremony Tuesday, 105 years after he died.

France Britain WWI
Colonel Howard Wilkinson, Military Attache, British Embassy Paris, gives a French flag to relatives during a Rededication Service for Second Lieutnant Osmund Bartle Wordsworth, in the cemetery of Ecoust-Saint-Mein, northern France, Tuesday, June 21, 2022.  Michel Spingler / AP

A new headstone for Wordsworth, who was killed in action in the Battle of Arras on April 2, 1917, was mounted at his gravesite at a cemetery in Ecoust-Saint-Mein in northern France. A cleric led the ceremony, and a British military attache handed Wordsworth's relatives a carefully folded French flag to place on the grave.

The evolution of DNA technology has allowed for the identification of more and more unknown soldiers from World War I. A service will be held for others in Ypres, Belgium, next week.

France Britain WWI
The grave of Second Lieutenant Osmund Bartle Wordsworth is pictured during a Rededication Service in the cemetery of Ecoust-Saint-Mein, northern France, Tuesday, June. 21, 2022.  Michel Spingler / AP

In the U.S., the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency routinely identifies the remains of fallen soldiers through DNA as well as dental and anthropological analysis.

In 2006, the remains of U.S. Army Pvt. Francis Lupo was the first World War I casualty to be recovered and identified by the agency.

Since the renewal of U.S. POW/MIA recovery efforts in the 1970s, the remains of about 1,000 Americans killed in World War II have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors, the Defense Department says. The remains of roughly 280,000 Americans were identified immediately after the war.

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