Full military burial for Pvt McAleer ...

The burial ceremony for Private William McAleer at Loos Cemetery, France
The burial ceremony for Private William McAleer at Loos Cemetery, France

Almost 100 years after he was killed in action in the Battle of Loos in 1915, a Leven soldier has been reburied with full military honours.

Private William McAleer, from the 7th Battalion the Royal Scots Fusiliers, was among twenty British soldiers to be re-interred at Loos British Cemetery in northern France on Friday.

In 2010, the soldiers were found in a grave during construction work in the village of Vendin-le-Vieil, north of Arras, but 22 year-old Pte McAleer was the only one identified because his identity disc survived almost a century underground.

Among the other soldiers were a Northumberland Fusilier, a further six Royal Scots Fusiliers, a member of the York and Lancaster Regiment, two Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and nine others for whom no regiment was identified.

The ceremony at Loos Cemetery was accorded full military honours by the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Those who could not be identified were buried as soldiers “Known unto God” in front of more than 200 people, including Pte McAleer’s great step nephew, Stephen McLeod (47), who travelled from Scotland (pictured below).

Pte McAleer died on September 26, 1915 shortly after the battle began.

The major offensive - which saw the British first use poison gas - was an attempt by the allies to break through German lines and end the stalemate of trench warfare.

Very little is known about Pte McAleer’s family except that his father had died in a pit accident, and his mother later remarried.

Following an appeal for information, the Ministry of Defence learned his direct descendants had emigrated to America.