He was reported missing 99 years ago during the Battle of the Somme
David Harkness Blakey was born at Gateshead, in November 1889. His father was a coal miner, and he was one of at least 10 children from his father’s two marriages.
He was killed on the 1st July 1916 - the first day of the Battle of the Somme - at 26 years of age, when the 36th (Ulster) Division attacked between Thiepval and Beaumont-Hamel. His body was never recovered.
His name is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing with more than 72,000 other men who died between 1915 and the 20th March 1918 and whose remains were never recovered or could not be identified: these men are known as “The Missing of the Somme”.
The “Missing” Exhibition at the Historial, Museum of the Great War
In 2012, the Historial, Museum of the Great War in Péronne held an exhibition themed on remembrance and the Missing of the Somme commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Pam and Ken Linge had suggested this exhibition relating to their work with the Missing of the Somme Database, an on-going project they began more than 10 years ago. This database can be viewed at the Thiepval Visitor Centre and today – thanks to the continued work by Pam and Ken – the personal information and photographs of nearly 12,000 men commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial can be viewed.
The stories of 182 of these men were chosen to feature in the 2012 exhibition; one of those stories was that of David Harkness Blakey.
For more information about this past exhibition, please click here
His remains discovered during road works carried out for the centenary commemorations
Serjeant David Harkness Blakey’s remains were discovered during road works that were being carried out on the D73, close to the Ulster Tower, in autumn 2013 by the Somme Departmental Council to accommodate the extra traffic in view of the centenary commemorations.
He was identified by his metal identification tag, probably a gift from his family as it was not standard issue.
The Ministry of Defence launched a call for relatives, enabling the great-granddaughter of Sergeant Harkness Blakey, Jackie Coleman, to be found.
Jackie’s father, Norman, was very interested in the Blakey family history, especially that of David and the First World War, and had collected many letters and photographs, including one of David in uniform.
For more information about David’s story, please click here.
If you have information or photographs about a soldier commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and would like it to be added to the Missing of the Somme database, which can be viewed at the Thiepval Visitor Centre, please contact Pam and Ken Linge at: firstname.lastname@example.org