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2 June 2017
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Human remains found in France identified as WW I soldier from New Brunswick

Human remains found in France identified as WW I soldier from New Brunswick

Sgt. Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy of St. Stephen was 33 when he was killed on Aug. 15, 1917

CBC News Posted: Jun 02, 2017 12:37 PM AT Last Updated: Jun 02, 2017 2:58 PM AT

Human remains found in France nearly a year ago have been identified as those of a First World War soldier from St. Stephen, N.B., the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces announced on Friday.

Sgt. Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy of St. Stephen, N.B.

Sgt. Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy was born in St. Stephen, N.B., on Nov. 3, 1884. He enlisted in 1915 and was killed on Aug. 15, 1917, in the Battle of Hill 70. (Department of National Defence)

Sgt. Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy, was a stenographer before enlisting in Montreal on Aug. 4, 1915, as a member of the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The battalion was formed by the Montreal-based Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada.

Shaughnessy was killed two years later, on Aug. 15, 1917, in the Battle of Hill 70 ? the first major action fought by the Canadian Corps under a Canadian commander in the First World War. He was 33.

His remains and First World War artifacts were discovered near the village of Vendin-le-Vieil during munitions-clearing work in advance of a construction project on June 6, 2016, according to a joint news release.

Remains of WW I soldier from Manitoba found at construction site in France

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was notified, and with the support of French regional authorities, took possession of the remains and artifacts and transported them to a commission office in Beaurains, France, it said.

Shaughnessy was identified by the Department of National Defence casualty identification program through a review of the historical context, an examination of evidence, including an identification disc and a signet ring, and forensic anthropological analysis, according to the release.

Regiment plans burial

Family members have been notified and Veterans Affairs Canada is providing them with support as final arrangements are made for Shaughnessy's burial later this year at Loos British Cemetery outside Loos-en-Gohelle, France, by his regiment.

"We have the privilege to mark Sgt. Shaughnessy's place of rest so that all who pass by will make note of his sacrifice," Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) David Kettle, secretary general, the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said in a statement.

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"We will remember Sgt. Shaughnessy as one of over 2,000 brave Canadians who gave their lives in the Battle of Hill 70," National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in the statement.

"Their courage and determination has not diminished with the century that has passed. We honour and remember them."

The goal of the 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 family.

In 1917, about 2,100 Canadians gave their lives in the Battle of Hill 70, which took place Aug. 15 to Aug. 25. More than 1,300 of these soldiers have no known grave, according to the news release.

The strategic high point of Hill 70 remained in Allied hands until the end of the war.

"Like all of the men and women who gave their lives in the war effort, Sgt. Shaughnessy will be revered and remembered by a grateful nation," Kent Hehr, the veterans affairs minister and associate minister of national defence.