Online users were emotional when photos of a grave site from early 1900s uncovered in Houma were shared to Facebook this morning.

Photos of one headstone showed the name of William Dixon ,67, who was born in Glasgow and died on August 24, 1915.

The grave site was abandoned for years and overgrown with  bushes.

The discovery came after locals cleared the area today to dig a grave for Viliami Hiva Niupalau, a cancer patient who died last week.

Older Houma people living overseas were quick to recognise the grave and said on Facebook they knew the site.

One Facebook user who shared a photo of the site and Dixon’s headstone with Kaniva News was thinking of the deceased’s family and relatives in the UK.

“I wish their grandchildren in Scotland could see their graves,” Viliami Maumau said.

“In Loving Memory of William Dixon born in Glasgow, Scotland died August 1915 aged 67,” the headstone read.

Locals claimed the graves belonged to palagi soldiers who arrived in Tonga during the First World War.

The World Wars

During the First World War a mixture of 150 Germans, Samoans, and New Guinea Islanders including their wives and families lived in Tonga. Samoa and New Guinea were both German colonies in 1914 when they were captured by New Zealand and Australia respectively.

Some of them were deported as prisoners of war to New Zealand and others continued to live in Tonga, but had land confiscated and strict sanctions placed on their movements.

Young, able-bodied men of European descent living in Tonga when war first declared took a ship to the closest large port to enlist – mostly in New Zealand and Australia. A total of 91 men born or living in Tonga have been identified as having served in World War 1.

Twenty seven years after Dixon’s death, US troops arrived in Tonga.

As Kaniva News reported in April,  in May 1942, 7800 US soldiers and 862 sailors sailed into Nuku’alofa harbour to set up a base in Tonga as part of a defensive chain across the Pacific to keep supply routes open to Australia and New Zealand

Late Queen Sālote Tupou III provided land for an airfield and established the Tongan Defence Force, whose soldiers eventually fought the Japanese in the Solomon Islands campaign.