Wednesday 22 October 2014

Saving Private Ryan's grave from sinkhole

Published 02/03/2014 | 13:49

Work is to begin next week on filling a sink hole that has appeared in a military cemetery, swallowing the grave of an Irish soldier called Private Ryan in Wales.

The soldier, Private Francis Ryan, of the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, King's (Liverpool Regiment), was born in Longford in 1875 and died in 1915, aged 40.

The grave in the Pembroke Dock war cemetery, Wales' only military graveyard, collapsed into a 20ft hole after a prolonged spell of heavy rain caused the limestone layer beneath Pte Ryan's coffin to shift.

Military chiefs are now working to prevent the headstone collapsing into the pit. Five other graves are also thought to be at risk of falling into the cavern.

 

The Ministry of Defence has been unable to trace any living relatives of the deceased serviceman, whose name echoes the title of Tom Hanks' Second World War film.

 

The MoD says it has no plans to exhume the grave but instead intends to fill the hole to prevent it growing.

 

A spokesman said: "Work to fill the sink hole will begin next week and will be completed by the end of March. The chosen option does not involve exhumation."

 

Currently the hole is covered with just a protective metal grille to deter tomb raiders.

 

The west Wales graveyard will host events to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in August.

 

The cemetery is the final resting place for 23 Commonwealth servicemen killed during the First World War and 51 who died during the Second World War.

 

The affected section has been cordoned off to the public while work to make the graves safe continues.

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