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No Known Grave – Missing in Action at The Fusilier Museum

A new exhibition entitled No Known Grave – Missing in Action has opened at The Fusilier Museum in Bury to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

No Known Grave – Missing in Action features the fascinating stories of two Lancashire Fusiliers, Pte Richard Lancaster and Pte Harry Wilkinson, whose bodies were found in 2000 and 2006 in a Belgium field not far from Ypres. Both were killed in a night attack on November 10th 1914, at the start of the war. This unique exhibition tells the story of how these two local men were identified, and pieces together the evidence to solve the mystery surrounding their deaths.

The exhibition, which has been curated by the Fusilier Museum’s Collections Officer, Sarah Stevenson, features the personal belongings found on the two men from Bury and Burnley, offering a personal and intimate insight into two Soldiers of the Great War.

Pte Harry Wilkinson who was found in 2000 was finally laid to rest with full military honours in 2001 by his former regiment, now the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The former fireman was just 29 years old when he died, leaving behind his pregnant wife and his son.

Pte Richard Lancaster was found in 2006, 92 years after his death, and was finally laid to rest in 2007. Two of Pte Lancaster’s grandchildren were able to attend the opening of the exhibition and saw a number of items which were found alongside his body, including his identity tag, scabbard, ammunition, toothbrush, razor, fork and spoon.

Sarah Stevenson said “It was a great honour to work on this exhibition and we hope visitors to the museum will enjoy finding out about the lives of both Harry and Richard. We were delighted that members of Pte Richard Lancaster’s family could attend the opening and with it being the centenary of World War One this year, we hope to welcome lots more visitors to this exhibition and the museum in the forthcoming months.”

As well as focussing on these poignant and personal stories, the exhibition gives and insight into the work that is carried out to help identify possible sites for soldiers’ last resting places, and the recovery work which is carried out in Belgium.

Home to the collections of XX The Lancashire Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, The Fusilier Museum in Bury, Lancashire, documents over 300 years of history and heritage through permanent and temporary exhibitions. The museum is currently working on £1.4m HLF funded ‘Onwards and Upwards’ project. Due to be completed in October, the refurbishment of the upstairs of the Grade II listed building is underway. Once complete, the top floor will be home to a state-of-the-art conference and events space, a new exhibition room, and the relocated Fusilier Archive. There will also be improved storage and new learning facilities and space for school workshops and activities.