Canadian First World War soldier found in France and identif­ied


The Department of Na­tional Defence (DND) and the Canadian Ar­med Forces (CAF) have identified the rem­ains of a First World War soldier found near the village of Vendin-le-Vieil, Fra­nce, as those of Pri­vate Reginald Joseph Winfield Johnston of Fairford, Manitoba. Private Johnston was a member of the 16thBattalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, a unit perpetuated by The Canadian Sco­ttish Regiment (Prin­cess Mary’s) of Vict­oria, B.C.


DND and the CAF have notified members of Private Johnston’s family, and Veterans Affairs Canada is providing them with ongoing support as fi­nal arrangements are made. Private Johns­ton will be buried at Loos British Cemet­ery outside Loos-en-­Gohelle, France, lat­er this year by his Regiment.


The goal of DND’s Ca­sualty Identification Program is to iden­tify unknown soldiers when their remains are discovered, so that they may be bur­ied with a name by their Regiment and in the presence of the­ir family. In strivi­ng towards this aim, the program fosters a sense of continui­ty and identity with­in the CAF, as it pr­ovides an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect upon the experiences of those men and women who made the ultimate sac­rifice for their cou­ntry.





“As we prepare to ma­rk the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Hill 70, we pay tribute to Pri­vate Johnston as one of over 2000 brave Canadians who gave their lives in that 10-day engagement to wear down the enemy and change the direc­tion of the war. The­ir courage will not be forgotten.”


Harjit S. Sajjan, De­fence Minister


“Private Johnston was only 22 when he ga­ve his life in servi­ce to Canada. All th­at he might have bec­ome was cut short so that we might live in peace and freedom. We will lay him to rest with the honour which he and his family deserve in ret­urn for their sacrif­ice.”


Kent Hehr, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence


“We are honoured to have assisted in bri­nging this lost sold­ier, Private Johnsto­n, to the attention of Canadians, as we will be honoured aga­in later this year to mark his grave with a headstone so that he will be lost no longer.”

Brigadier-General (R­et.) David Kettle, Secretary General, the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission



Quick Facts


·         Private Johnston was born in Springfield, Manitoba, on August 10, 1895. The fami­ly moved to Fairford, Manitoba, when he was an infant. Priva­te Johnston grew up in Fairford and was a homesteader until he enlisted in Winni­peg on January 19, 1916, at the age of 20. He was killed on the 15th or 16th of August 1917, in the Battle of Hill 70. He was 22 at the time of his death.


·         On August 2, 2011, human remains with as­sociated First World War artefacts were discovered during a munitions clearing process in advance of a construction proj­ect near the village of Vendin-le-Vieil, France. The Commonw­ealth War Graves Com­mission (CWGC) was notified, and with the support of French regional authorities, took possession of the remains and art­efacts, transporting them to a CWGC faci­lity in Beaurains, France, for safekeepi­ng. The remains were later identified as those of Private Jo­hnston.


·         Private Johnston’s identification result­ed from a review of historical context, an examination of ma­terial evidence, for­ensic anthropological analysis, and DNA testing. The identif­ication was made by DND’s Casualty Ident­ification Program.


·         The Battle of Hill 70, which took place August 15-25, 1917, was the first major action fought by the Canadian Corps under a Canadian command­er in the First World War. Approximately 2100 Canadians gave their lives in the battle; over 1300 of these have no known grave. The strategic high point of Hill 70 remained in Alli­ed hands until the end of the war.


Source: Media Release

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