Sheffield Grandson’s anguish over delay identifying heroes

Frank Wood with pictures of his grandfather Larrett Roebuck
Frank Wood with pictures of his grandfather Larrett Roebuck
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THE grandson of a Great War hero from Sheffield has contacted Prime Minister David Cameron in protest at a delay in identifying remains of old soldiers found on a battlefield site almost a century after they died.

Frank Wood is unhappy no action has been taken to test the skeletons of 15 soldiers, three years after they were discovered at Beaucamps-Ligny, near Arras, in northern France.

Mr Wood, aged 77, of Woodhouse Mill, said his grandfather, Lance Corporal Larrett Roebuck, died on October 18, 1914, leaving behind a wife, son and three daughters.

His body has never been found - but the family’s hopes were raised following the discovery of the soldiers’ remains in 2009.

Now Mr Wood is calling for war graves officials to confirm whether or not LCpl Roebuck, who was a professional footballer with Huddersfield Town before joining up, was one of the men whose bodies were discovered.

He said: “It has been three years and we are still waiting for news. The only thing we have heard is the bodies are at Arras in France.

“I have emailed my MP Clive Betts and the Prime Minister, and contacted Government war graves officials, but nothing has happened. In two years’ time, it will be 100 years since my grandfather died. It is disgusting they gave their lives to be in a cardboard box sitting on a slab in France instead of a grave.”

Mr Wood and the six other grandchildren of LCpl Roebuck, who live around the country, are meeting next month to discuss what to do next. Mr Wood is hoping for a reply from Mr Cameron in the meantime.

He said: “The war graves officials have told me they are being held up by current activities in Afghanistan but the Prime Minister has announced £50 million to commemorate the Great War’s centenary. Surely some of that money could be used to speed up identification of the remains so these heroes can be laid to rest?”

Sheffield South East Labour MP Mr Betts said he is ‘happy to try to help’ pursue the case.