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 Sergeant Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy of St. Stephen, New Brunswick. Sergeant Shaughnessy was a member of the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), a unit perpetuated by The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, of Montreal.
DND and the CAF have notified members of Sergeant Shaughnessy’s family, and Veterans Affairs Canada is providing them with ongoing support as final arrangements are made. Sergeant Shaughnessy 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.
“We will remember Sergeant Shaughnessy as one of over 2000 brave Canadians who gave their lives in the Battle of Hill 70. Their courage and determination has not diminished with the century that has passed. We honour and remember them.”
Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister
“Like all of the men and women who gave their lives in the war effort, Sergeant Shaughnessy will be revered and remembered by a grateful nation.”
Kent Hehr, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence
“We have the privilege to mark Sergeant Shaughnessy’s place of rest so that all who pass by will make note of his sacrifice.”
Brigadier-General (Ret.) David Kettle, Secretary General, the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
· Sergeant Shaughnessy was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, on November 3, 1884. He was a stenographer before enlisting in Montreal on August 4, 1915, at the age of 31. He was killed on August 15, 1917, in the Battle of Hill 70. He was 33 at the time of his death.
· On June 6, 2016, 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 Sergeant Shaughnessy.
· Sergeant Shaughnessy’s identification resulted from a review of historical context, an examination of material evidence (including an identification disc and a signet ring), and forensic anthropological analysis. 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