World War Two Soldier’s Remains to Be Properly Buried Decades After He Died In Italy

British troops and vehicles landing in Salerno, 1943. <a href=>Photo Credit</a>
British troops and vehicles landing in Salerno, 1943. Photo Credit

Lance Corporal Ronald George Blackham was a member of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards during World War II. He was killed in action as he stormed German defenses in southern Italy during an intense battle to win Hill 270 near Salerno on September 25, 1943.

He was only 22 when he died.

In February 2014, his remains were found in a shallow grave near the village of Capezzano. The volunteer group Associazione Salerno 1943 were the ones to locate them.

They were able to determine that the remains were those of a British soldier based on the type of ammunition and the Coldstream Guards cap badge they found in the grave. After being contacted by Associazione Salerno 1943, the Ministry of Defence was able to locate Blackham’s brother and verify his remains through DNA testing.

73 years after he died, family and friends are gathering to see him buried in a war cemetery in Salerno. Two unknown soldiers that were found nearby will also be buried there.

Blackham’s younger sister, Alma Williams, 80, will be the only one of his siblings at the ceremony. She said she was speechless from the news that her brother’s remains had been discovered. Their identification as Blackham’s remains was the first time the family received official confirmation that he had died in the war.

Blackham was born in Weaverham, near Northwich in Cheshire on October 6, 1920. He enlisted in the Coldstream guards on Jun 18, 1940, at 19 years old.

He worked for the Imperial Chemical Industry after school until he enlisted.

Williams was only six when her brother died. She remembers him as a tall man who stood six foot four inches, Herald Scotland reported.

Her mother told her that her brother would come home on leave when the horse chestnut candle blossoms were on the trees. Now, she thinks of him whenever sees those blossoms.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE