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105 years after his death, WWI vet ID'd through DNA gets a funeral

The evolution of DNA technology has allowed for the identification of more and more unknown soldiers.
Credit: AP Photo/Michel Spingler
Colonel Howard Wilkinson, Military Attache, British Embassy Paris, puts a French flag on the grave of Second Lieutnant Osmund Bartle Wordsworth during a Rededication Service, in the cemetery of Ecoust-Saint-Mein, northern France, Tuesday, June. 21, 2022. Wordsworth was killed in action at the Battle of Arras on April 2, 1917.

ÉCOUST-SAINT-MEIN, France — For more than a century, the British soldier lay in an anonymous grave, one of so many unidentified victims buried beneath the killing fields of World War I.

But now, his headstone finally bears a name: 2nd Lt. Osmund Bartle Wordsworth — a great-great-nephew of English poet William Wordsworth — who was recently identified by DNA research, and given a funeral ceremony Tuesday, 105 years after he died.

A new headstone for Wordsworth, who was killed in action in the Battle of Arras on April 2, 1917, was mounted at his gravesite at a cemetery in Ecoust-Saint-Mein in northern France. A cleric led the ceremony, and a British military attache handed Wordsworth's relatives a carefully folded French flag to place on the grave.

The evolution of DNA technology has allowed for the identification of more and more unknown soldiers from World War I. A service will be held for others in Ypres, Belgium, next week.

As CBS News adds, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency regularly uses DNA, dental records and anthropological analysis to help identify unknown soldiers and bring closure to their families. On its website, the agency says its vision is to maximize the number of military personnel who are accounted for ensure their loved ones are provided with timely and accurate information.

Back in 2006, CBS says the agency made its first recovery – identifying the remains of U.S. Army Pvt. Francis Lupo. He was killed in July 1918 near Soissons, France. Lupo's remains were first discovered in 2003 by a French archaeologist, according to CBS.

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