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Remains of 3 Canadian WWI soldiers found in France identified through DNA

May 22, 2018
Katie Dangerfield, Global News

More than 100 years after fighting in a battle in northern France during the First World War, the remains of three Canadian soldiers have been identified.

The soldiers’ remains were found over the course of a year in 2010 near the village of Vendin-le-Vieil in northern France.

Through DNA, genealogical and historical analysis, they have now have been identified as Private William Del Donegan, Private Henry Edmonds Priddle and Sergeant Archibald Wilson.

All three soldiers were from Manitoba and enlisted in Winnipeg. They died in the Battle of Hill 70 as members of the 16th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF).

The Battle of Hill 70 took place in August 1917. It was the first major action fought by CEF under a Canadian commander in the First World War. Around 2,100 Canadians gave their lives in the battle — over 1,300 of whom still have no known grave.

But now three of the soldiers in the battle will be laid to rest.

“A century has passed since these three soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice on a battlefield half a world away, but time has not diminished their legacy,” Seamus O’Regan, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence said.

“It seems fitting that their final resting place is in the land which they helped to free. We will lay them to rest with the honour they and their families deserve. May they never be forgotten.”

All three of the families have been tracked and Veterans Affairs Canada said its providing them with ongoing support as final arrangements are made.

The soldiers will be buried by their regiment and their families at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Loos British Cemetery outside Loos-en-Gohelle, France, on Aug. 23 at 1:30 p.m. CT. The public is welcome to attend.

“We are honoured to have shared in the efforts to bring these lost soldiers to the attention of Canadians, as we will be honoured again later this year to mark their graves with headstones so that all who pass by will know what they gave for us,” Brigadier-General (Ret.) David Kettle, Secretary General, the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said.

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