William McAleer, a 22-year-old private from Fife, was among 60,000 British troops who disappeared without a trace in the Battle of Loos in 1915. Nearly a century later, workers building a new prison turned up his remains along with 19 other British and 30 German soldiers, carefully laid out in a common grave that was dug by the German side.
McAleer was identified by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission through an ID tag found with his remains. McAleer and 19 other, still unidentified, British soldiers were reburied with full military honours as pipers played Amazing Grace in a fog-shrouded cemetery in northern France, close to where they fell.
Efforts to identify the others have been unsuccessful, although investigators were able to trace half of them to a specific regiment. Their graves, like the majority of the graves in Loos' British cemetery, will bear the epitaph "Known Unto God." More than 700,000 soldiers killed in the Great War were never found.
Soldiers of The 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland carry the coffin of Private William McAleerGetty
The coffin of Private William McAleer, from the 7th Battalion the Royal Scottish Fusiliers, is prepared for burialGetty
Corporal Stuart Gillies of The 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland plays his bagpipes in the fogGetty
A woman carry wreaths of poppies arrives at Loos-en-Gohelle Commonwealth war cemeteryReuters
Stephen McLeod, great step-nephew of Private William McAleer, shows the death notice of his uncleReuters
The original military identity tag of World War One soldier Private William McAleer is displayed at Loos British CemeteryGetty
A mourner looks at coffins of British World War One soldiers after a re-burial ceremonyGetty
Members of The 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland rehearse for the gun salute amongst World War One headstonesGetty
Corporal Stuart Gillies of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland plays bagpipes amongst tombstonesReuters
Wounded French troops lie on stretchers at a farm after the Battle of Loos in 1915Getty