Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Rest easy Grandad, your Friend has now been found. Unmarked Soldier's grave formally recognised as Antony's

It was with much delight and a touch of emotion, I received the following message this morning;

"Hi Colin, The unmarked grave @ Plot XVIII Row C, Grave 2, Becklingen War Cemetery, Soltau, Germany, will be marked as Antony's!"

Sent to me this morning by Barbara Willoughby-Thomas, the niece of Antony Coulthard. What fitting news to receive on this day, 70 years exactly to the day of Antony's passing.

Steve Foster, who's Father Fred Foster, a Sgt. also in the same POW Camp as Antony and Neil, received the email from the MOD, informing him of the decision. Steve worked very hard and submitted a vast amount of evidence and detail to the MOD previously, in hope that they would be able to recognise Antony's final resting place.

A Rededication Ceremony with a full military service, will now be arranged for an appropriate date in July/August.

I am now looking forward to attending this ceremony with some mixed emotions;

To meeting Barbara and Steve for the first time. Three of us, descendants of the three men who were also listed together in official MI9 Documents as persistent escapers.

To know that this great man's final resting place has been recognised and the closure is must bring his family.

To finally know a wish my Grandfather told me, of his friend, is being granted.

The following excerpt from the manuscript of my Grandfathers Book, describes this moment perfectly;

"Forever will the beauty of an Apple Blossom remind him of his friend and the pointless death he suffered. Back in his home town of Rothesay, there is an Apple Tree that stands in the grounds of the towns famous castle, Neil thought of that tree. Even today, forty years on, when that tree or any other tree is in blossom he is reminded of his friend and silently prays in remembrance."

The person recording my Grandfathers thoughts at the time, also stated;

"During my Interviews with Neil, I have never seen him so disturbed and tearful, as he talks about his friend Antony Coulthard"

"Up to this date Neil has never been able to trace any known resting place for his friend Tony. It is his wish that one day, this will be known."

Rest easy Grandad, you're Friend has now been found!