Fallen Soham soldier’s name added to roll of honour 98 years after his death

Arthur Munns, left, and Lilian Winter at their great uncles graveside with Glenn Woodbridge, Soham RBL chairman, John Aitcheson, secretary, Jonty Woodbridge, standard bearer, James Paice, deputy Lord Lieutenant, and Mike Donaghue, vice-chairman.
Arthur Munns, left, and Lilian Winter at their great uncles graveside with Glenn Woodbridge, Soham RBL chairman, John Aitcheson, secretary, Jonty Woodbridge, standard bearer, James Paice, deputy Lord Lieutenant, and Mike Donaghue, vice-chairman.

A new headstone in Soham cemetery marking the final resting place of a soldier of the First World War has been dedicated 98 years after his death.

The name of Pte Benjamin Munns was inscribed on the town’s War Memorial but researchers working on the book Soham and The Great War, produced to mark the 2014 centenary, found that he had ‘slipped through the system’ and lay in an unmarked grave.

Determined to put right this omission, the Soham branch of the Royal British Legion contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and got permission for Pte Munns’ grave to be marked with the traditional Portland stone headstone.

On Sunday, Pte Munns’ great-niece and nephew Arthur Munns and Lilian Winter, who both live in Soham, took part in the touching ceremony in the cemetery chapel and at the graveside.

Pte Munns, 25, enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment in January 1915, giving his address as East Fen Common and his father William Munns.

Sent to France with the 7th Bn Suffolks, he was wounded on July 22, 1916, three weeks into the Battle of the Somme but remained on duty. On October 12 he received a gunshot wound to his left thigh and was evacuated to the UK.

Back in France two months later, he obviously enjoyed New Year celebrations because on January 1, 1917, he was given 10 days’ detention for being drunk on duty.

After service in Egypt, Pte Munns returned to France but, suffering from ‘bronchial catarrh’, was sent back to hospital in Hampshire and discharged with tuberculosis.

He was sent home to Soham where he died, aged 30, on January 12, 1920. His death was from TB, contracted as a result of active service and his name is now where it belongs – on the roll of honour.