A burial service for Lance Serjeant Robert Brand - Mesen - 25/10/2023
A burial service for Lance Serjeant Robert Brand and two unknown soldiers of the 9th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry was be held at 11.00am (local time)on 25 October 2023 at Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Belgium.

Lance Serjeant Brand died on 13 April 1918 while serving with the 9th (Glasgow Highlanders) Battalion, Highland Light Infantry. He was previously commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

Following the recovery of Lance Serjeant Brand’s remains, the CWGC will mark his grave with a Commission headstone, bearing his name and a personal inscription chosen by his family. The CWGC will care for his final resting place in perpetuity.

The service has been organised by the British Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre and was be attended by Lance Serjeant Brand’s family, Defence Staff, Regimental representatives, CWGC staff and local dignitaries.

During the period from June 2018 to November 2019 the remains of three First World War servicemen were recovered from a field in Neuve Eglise, Belgium, whilst archaeological work was taking place prior to the expansion of a potato farm.

Artefacts found alongside the casualties allowed them to be identified as soldiers from the 9th (Glasgow Highland) Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry. Other artefatcs indicated that they must have died after August 1916; this information combined with that from Battalion War Diaries and other records, narrowed their dates of death to a period between 13th - 15th April 1918. This was during the Batlle of the Lys.

Whilst efforts have been made to identy all three, so far only one man has been positively identified - Lance Serjeant Robert Brand.

Robert Brand was born on 13 September 1893 in Stirling, to William McPhail Brand and Christina Johnston Arthur, who had been married in the July of the same year. Robert was the eldest of 12 children, he had first gone to France with the army in November 1914, in 1916 he was hospitalised following a gunshot wound to the neck. Following this he was entitled to wear a wound stripe on his uniform.

Robert died during the Battle of the Lys, also known as the Fourth Battle of Ypres, which was fought from 7 to 29 April 1918. It was part of the German spring offensive in Flanders during the First World War. The main objective of the German attack was to capture Ypres before forcing the British forces back to the Channel ports and out of the war. Whilst the German attacks did penetrate almost 10 miles into British held territory, ultimatrely they failed in their objective to force a British withdrawal from the Ypres Salient.

British casulaties during this engagement are thougt to have been in teh region of 80,000 men, with similar losses on the German side.

Lance Serjeant Brand and his two compatriots were being buried at the closest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery to where the were found - Messines Ridge Cemetery.

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