THE final resting place of a 26-year-old soldier from Dewsbury, who was killed at the Battle of Arnhem in the Second World War and buried as an unknown soldier, has been identified by Dutch researchers after more than 70 years.
A new headstone will be placed on Lance Corporal William Loney’s grave during a re-dedication ceremony at Arnhem war cemetery on September 13. The ceremony will include information about LCpl Loney’s life researched by a Dewsbury genealogist and military historian.
LCpl Loney was killed alongside another soldier called Norman Shipley during heavy fighting near the railway station in the centre of Arnhem on September 17, 1944. The two men’s bodies lay on the street for days.
Dutch researcher Marcel Anker spent years researching the men’s army unit – C Company, 2nd Parachute Battalion – and has written a book called The Lost Company.
He wrote how in the chaos of battle and the numerous funerals which followed, LCpl Loney’s remains were not identified.
His name was engraved on the memorial wall to the missing at the cemetery in Groesbeek while his body has been in Oosterbeek all the time as an unknown Lance Corporal.
It was recently announced in Dutch media that a group of researchers in Arnhem had been studying burial records and came to the conclusion that an unknown Lance Corporal of the Parachute Regiment buried in Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery was in fact William Loney.
This has been confirmed by the UK Ministry of Defence Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre and there will be a rededication ceremony at the cemetery on September 13. LCpl Loney will now have a new headstone bearing his name.
Dewsbury genealogist and military historian Peter Bennett had discovered William Loney’s story 10 years ago and found out his grave had been found via social media just last month.
LCpl Loney, who had been in the army for five years, was the son of William Lionel and the late Mary Ellen Loney, nee Oates, of Park Parade, Westtown, Dewsbury.
William Loney worked at Newsome and Spedding Ltd’s Aldams Mill in Dewsbury and was a regular at Our Lady and St Paulinus Church in Dewsbury.
There are not believed to be any surviving members of the family and the Ministry of Defence is anxious to trace relatives.
Mr Bennett said: “William Loney had a brother, Albert, and one sister, Rosie, who were never married. His other sister Mary did marry and had a son named William Buckley who was born in 1935 and was married in 1959 but he has since passed away without having children.
“I was part of the history group at Our Lady and St Paulinus Church, Dewsbury. About 10 years ago, the then-parish priest, the Rev Nicholas Hird, thought it would be fitting to produce a book on the men of the parish who gave their lives in both world wars, of which William Loney was one.
“This was and still is a work in progress as more historical documents and extra information has become available online. I have become a keen military historian since being involved in a local project in Dewsbury and helping researchers throughout the world. It was only by chance that I saw something on Facebook by an Arnhem group about three weeks ago which said that William Loney’s last resting place had been confirmed but I could find nothing in UK media.
“The MoD had posted his family tree on genealogy website Ancestry in the hope that any of his relatives might see this and provide some of his personal details. I contacted them stating that whilst I was not a relative I had done some research on him and could supply all the information. They were very pleased with this.”
Loney family or friends can call the MoD on 01452 712612 extension 6063.
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