Letters — 05 February 2013 — by Nuri Akbar
A Belizean soldier casualty of World War I

Editor Sir,

I was deeply moved when I got this photo from Mrs. Muriel Laing Arthurs, a cousin of mine who tracked down the grave of my granduncle, Reginald Laing, who was among the young Belizean soldiers who died fighting in World War I. He was just 20 years old when he was killed.

Some years earlier I had tracked down the only surviving photo of him that my aunt had in Chicago. I held on to this picture for several years and when I was in Belize in 2008, I met Mrs. Arthurs for the first time. One of the most incredible things happened. After Mrs. Muriel and her husband had moved back to Belize after decades living in NY, they settled on the Laing property on Euphrates Ave. in Belize City. One day while she was digging in her front yard garden, she stumbled upon a metal object buried in the earth. Curious, she took the object into her home and began to clean it. What it eventually revealed was the actual war Medal of Honor that was bestowed upon my uncle, Reginald Laing, in 1916.

After she told me of this incredible story I told my cousin I could put a face to this name and medal and produced the World War I picture I had been carrying for many years. The photo, taken in 1916, had a note written on the back which was addressed to his sister, who is my grandmother, Edith
Laing.

Copies of this historic photo were given to the Ex-servicemen organization in 2008. I do not know if any original medal and photo of any of the British West Indian army survived in Belize. But since we have a horrible history of preserving any historical item from this period in Belize, I am reluctant to recommend that our family donate these items to the Belize Historical Society, if such a thing even exists.

The war monument at what is left of Memorial Park in Belize City has my uncle’s name etched on it along with a few others. All these pieces came together after almost a hundred years by accident. So now we found his grave, a historical photo with him in army uniform and the actual war Medal of Honor he was awarded. I still can’t believe it all. I wish my beloved grandmother and mother were still alive to share this discovery with. I am not certain they had any idea where my uncle was buried.

Your brother,
Nuri Akbar

Casualties Report

BELIZE CITY CEMETERY, Belize

AMAYA, Private, P, L/NCA/17023, British Honduras Bn., North Caribbean Force. 3 May 1944. Grave Ref. Sec. 9. F. 10.

ASPINAL, Private, R, L/NCA/17262, British Honduras Bn., North Caribbean Force. 1 May 1944. Son of Mrs. B. Bevans, of Belize. Grave Ref. Sp. Mem.

BOWMAN, Private, L, L/NCA/17149, British Honduras Bn., North Caribbean Force. 17 July 1945. Nephew of Mrs. A. Gomez, of Belize. Grave Ref. Sec. 9. A. 125.

CLARKE, Corporal, HAROLD ARTHUR, L/NCA/9207, British Honduras Bn., North Caribbean Force. 23 September 1946. Age 27. Son of the late Leopold Erasmus Clarke and Lillian Beatrice Clarke, of Jamaica, B.W.I. Grave Ref. Sec. 10. F. 31.

HEPBURN, Corporal, A, 22200820, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. 9 February 1956. Age 35. Grave Ref. Plot 11 Row D Grave 81.

HODGES, Lance Corporal, T J, 23282828, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. 20 May 1964. Age 26. Grave Ref. Plot 11 Row D Grave 21.

KEARNEY, Private, J, 22273349, 1st Bn., Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. 19 March 1950. Age 19. Grave Ref. Plot 9 Row F Grave 193.

KING, Private, H A, L/NCA/17238, British Honduras Bn., North Caribbean Force. 10 June 1943. Son of Mrs. S. King, of Belize. Grave Ref. Sp. Mem.

LUBEN, Private, C J, L/NCA/17087, British Honduras Bn., North Caribbean Force. 10 February 1945. Son of Mrs. E. Burrows, of West Belize. Grave Ref. Sec. 9. F. 8.

MARKS, Lance Corporal, N, 14477306, 1st Bn., Gloucestershire Regiment. 29 October 1949. Grave Ref. Plot 9 Row F Grave 194.

McGILP, Staff Sergeant, G, 14475258, Royal Army Ordnance Corps. 20 June 1965. Age 39. Grave Ref. Plot 9 Row L Grave 13.

MINOTT, Sapper, EWART WILLIAM, JCA/18001211, Royal Engineers. 22 November 1945. Son of William and Leorana Minott; husband of Sybil Agusta Minott, of Jamaica, B.W.I. Grave Ref. Sp. Mem.

MITCHELL, Civilian, F, Civilian. 4 October 1949. Grave Ref. Plot 9 Row F Grave 195.

MUNNINGS, Private, W M, L/NCA/17240, British Honduras Bn., North Caribbean Force. 12 October 1944. Grave Ref. Sec. 6. HI. 66.

PERRY, Civilian, Service Dependant. 1 September 1960. Grave Ref. Plot 11 Row A Grave 112.

PREDDIE, Private, E G, L/NCA/17384, British Honduras Bn., North Caribbean Force. 1 October 1943. Son of Mr. C. Preddie, of Stann Creek, Belize. Grave Ref. Sp. Mem.

ROSSITER, Serjeant, J F, 2817935, Royal Army Medical Corps. 31 August 1948. Age 39. Grave Ref. Plot 9 Row F Grave 196.

SHADFORTH, Private, M L, 23935011, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment). 4 October 1963. Age 20. Grave Ref. Plot 11 Row D Grave 79.

SMITH, Signalman, P M, 24206538, Royal Corps of Signals. 16 October 1974. Age 19. Grave Ref. Plot 9 Row J Grave 54.

SPAIN, Lance Corporal, HUBERT P., L/NCA/17268, British Honduras Bn. H.Q Coy., North Caribbean Force. 17 July 1945. Age 27. Son of Peter and Sarah Spain husband of Frances Spain, of Belize. Grave Ref. Sec. 9. A. 124.

WARING, Lance Corporal, J F, 23907863, 1st Bn., The King’s Regiment (Liverpool). 11 June 1967. Grave Ref. Plot 11 Grave 12.

FORT GEORGE MEMORIAL, Belize

ARNOLD, Private, R, 1037, British Honduras Territorial Force. 29 June 1916.

ARNOLD, Private, WALTER, 5021, British Honduras Territorial Force. , Died of sickness 4 January 1919. Age 19. Son of Mrs. Juanita Flores, of Belize.

AWE, Private, A, 4019, British Honduras Territorial Force. 10 November 1918.

BELISLE, Private, H A, British Honduras Territorial Force. 29 May 1916.

BENNETT, Private, C N, 1112, British Honduras Territorial Force. 24 November 1917.

BURNS, Private, J A, 40341, British Honduras Territorial Force. 8 November 1918.

COELLO, Private, P, 4513, British Honduras Territorial Force. 19 November 1918.

FAIRWEATHER, Serjeant, W H, 85, British Honduras Territorial Force. 16 January 1917.

FELIX, Private, J, British Honduras Territorial Force. 22 August 1915.

FLORES, Private, F, 3372, British Honduras Territorial Force. 18 November 1918.

FLORES, Private, GREGORIA, 3272, British Honduras Territorial Force. 11 May 1917. Age 19. Son of Louis Flores and Silveria Annie Flores, of Stann Creek, British Honduras.

FLORES, Private, S J, 3248, British Honduras Territorial Force. 29 April 1918.

FLOWERS, Bugler, R, 5002, British Honduras Territorial Force. 20 November 1918.

HAMILTON, Private, A E, 1337, British Honduras Territorial Force. 9 December 1918.

HAMILTON, Private, WILLIAM, 5154, British Honduras Territorial Force. , Died of phthisis 4 August 1919. Age 17. Son of William A. and Naomi Hamilton, of Belize.

HARRISON, Captain Surgeon, J H H, British Honduras Territorial Force. 26 April 1916.

HUDSON, Lieutenant, J L, British Honduras Territorial Force. 8 May 1920.

HULSE, Captain, L R, British Honduras Territorial Force. 28 April 1918.

MAITLAND, Serjeant, JAMES, 2072, British Honduras Territorial Force. 12 March 1918.

McCORD, Corporal, N W, 229, British Honduras Territorial Force. 17 August 1914.

McNAB, Private, W, 3338, British Honduras Territorial Force. 3 October 1918.

MEJIA, Private, N, 797, British Honduras Territorial Force. 24 March 1917.

MEJIA, Private, P, 796, British Honduras Territorial Force. 13 November 1918.

MENZIES, Private, J A, 810, British Honduras Territorial Force. 17 September 1914.

MILLER, Lance Corporal, W G, 3210, British Honduras Territorial Force. 10 March 1918.

ORLAYNETO, Private, P, 3131, British Honduras Territorial Force. 27 November 1918.

PALOMA, Private, E, 4535, British Honduras Territorial Force. 11 November 1918.

PATTEN, Private, JAMES, 4085, British Honduras Territorial Force. 4 August 1914 – 31 August 1921.

PEEBLES, Serjeant, R A, 43, British Honduras Territorial Force. 6 November 1918.

PERDOMO, Private, M E, 1455, British Honduras Territorial Force. 11 November 1918.

PERDOMO, Second Lieutenant, S A, British Honduras Territorial Force. 16 July 1921.

RENEAU, Private, A W, 297, British Honduras Territorial Force. 6 May 1921.

REQUENA, Private, I, 4568, British Honduras Territorial Force. 7 November 1918.

ROCKE, Pioneer, J A, 20, British Honduras Territorial Force. 22 April 1921.

SHORE, Private, ELI, 56, British Honduras Territorial Force. 26 April 1918.

SLACK, Lieutenant Colonel, W J, British Honduras Territorial Force. 26 January 1915.

SMILLIN, Private, REGINALD, 2248, British Honduras Territorial Force. 23 May 1918.

TILLETT, Lance Corporal, R B, 923, British Honduras Territorial Force. 16 September 1919.

VERNON, Private, V D P, 654, British Honduras Territorial Force. 1 October 1917.

WINTER, Surgeon Lieutenant, W C P, British Honduras Territorial Force. 3 December 1918.

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