Can you solve the military mystery? Search across Salford for young Belgian WWI soldier’s lost grave

The search for a Belgian World War One soldier’s grave has amateur Salford sleuths scouring the city.

Historians have been set the challenge of finding the last resting place of 21-year-old Franciscus Alphonsus Van den Eynde who died in Salford a century ago.

He is commemorated in his home town of Viersel but Belgian officials have no record of his actual burial place – and have written to Salford Council in a bid to discover his grave in time for World War One honours.

City Mayor Ian Stewart said: “I’ve asked staff to dig into the records and see if Mr Van der Eynde is indeed buried in our city but it may be an enthusiastic local historian already knows where his grave is.

“It would be marvellous, as we approach the start of World War One commemorations, to find his last resting place and pay tribute to him by solving this 100 year mystery.”

Van den Eynde – who may have been known as Alfons, Frans or François – was wounded in fighting near Mechelen in the early days of the war before being brought to Britain for medical treatment, but died on December 3 1913 in Salford.

Kevin Verboven from Zandhoven wrote to Salford City Council asking for help in the search for the soldier born on the March 21 1893.

Mr Verboven, a member of the municipal advisory group tasked with managing World War One commemorations, said: “I’m amongst others trying to ascertain where Mr Van den Eynde died and importantly where he was and maybe still remains buried.

“The Belgian database which lists the fallen soldiers of the First World War lists this person but not his burial site. Usually burial sites are listed.”

Mr Verboven indicated that the search could be complicated by the multilingual nature of the young soldier’s place of origin with Dutch, French and Flanders spoken in the region.

“The name is listed on the Dutch language birth certificate (he was born speaking Flanders). However, these names were often shortened in daily use or they were given a French twist, this being a dominant language at the time in Belgium,” he said

“The commemorance plaque in Viersel lists him as Alfons (Dutch short for Alphonsus). However, he could have been known as Frans/François.

“It is also possible his name was written with ‘ij’ instead of y – so that could have been Van den Eijnde or Van den Eynde.”

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