"Tue 18 Jan 2005
How Rare Pen Let Great War Soldier Be Laid to Rest at Last
By Alison Purdy, PA
A First World War soldier was given a full military burial nearly 90 years after his death thanks to the dedicated research of a military enthusiast.
Peter Last, 61, of Great Wakering, Essex, identified Lance Corporal John Brown by a fountain pen found near his body which was embossed with the words Postman’s Gazette Pen.
The remains of several soldiers were discovered near the village of Loos, northern France, during a road widening scheme three years ago.
A friend of Mr Last sent him photographs of artefacts found with the bodies of the soldiers including the pen.
Mr Last, who has compiled a list of all the soldiers who died during the Battle of Loos in 1915, contacted the Post Office in London whose archive section held the names of all the employees who failed to return from the Great War.
A comparison of the two lists showed John Brown appeared on both.
“World War I was such a horrendous war that thousands and thousands of men were lost never to be found, but even if they were found only nine out of 10 were identifiable.
“If they weren’t identified they were buried in an anonymous grave,” he said.
Mr Last, who is the chairman of the Southend branch of The Western Front Association, discovered that John Brown was a postman from the Glasgow area and during a trip to Scotland he managed to track down his relatives.
He said he was pleased that his research had enabled Mr Brown’s relatives to attend his funeral which was held in France last October.
“John Brown died on his 20th birthday. Nearly 90 years after he died he was given a full military funeral and his coffin was draped in the Union Flag. I’m glad that thanks to a rare pen his relatives will now be able to visit his grave,” Mr Last said.
Mr Brown was buried in the village cemetery in Loos."