For more than 100 years, Lieutenant John (‘Jack’) Gillis Butt, who is remembered on Datchet’s WWI Memorial, had no known grave. In October 2018, Jack’s great nephew, Nick Previté, had some news to share with DVS. His uncle’s grave had been found and rededicated.
DVS met Nick a few years ago when we shared information about his great uncle, a doctor in the Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the Grenadier Guards, who had been shot while dressing his commanding officer’s head wound.
After many years of searching for evidence and joining forces with an Australian WWI researcher, Nick became convinced that the grave of an unknown lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), ‘Known unto God’, at Hooge Crater Cemetery, was that of his uncle.
The case for rededicating the grave was presented to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, with supporting evidence which included the position of the Grenadier Guards at the Kruiseik Cross Roads and the statements made by Jack’s commanding officer, a fellow soldier and an unidentified German doctor. The Cross Roads were under British control from 18-29 October 1914 and again after 28 September 1918. There were seven lieutenants in the RAMC who had no recorded place of burial during these time frames. Of these seven, only three died in Flanders. Two of those three were killed a number of miles from the Cross Roads and were excluded as possible candidates. By process of elimination and with additional supporting evidence, it was possible to prove that the grave at Hooge Crater Cemetery was almost certainly that of Lieutenant J G Butt.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission accepted the evidence and forwarded the submission to the Ministry of Defence, the final adjudicator concerning the naming of graves where the inscription states ‘Known unto God’. Finally, in July 2018, the case was accepted by the MoD and a service of rededication took place at the graveside on 9 October 2018. Nick was there to represent the family and Nick read Rudyard Kipling’s poem My Boy Jack. After the service, the Last Post was sounded before Reveille and the laying of wreaths.
Hooge Crater Cemetery is about 4kms from Ypres on the road to Menin. There are 5916 Commonwealth WWI servicemen buried or commemorated there but 3570 of the burials are still unidentified. From October, there is one less.
Jack is also remembered in an inscription on his parents’ grave in Datchet Cemetery