03 March 2007

Identifying Canadian Military Remains

The study of military, and the uses of it, for that matter apply in a lot of different circumstances. Personally, I have been exposed to that in the past while in one particular area of my work life. Yesterday, the Department of National Defence issued a news release which I will copy and paste here:

"News Release

Remains of First World War Soldier Identified

NR–07.010 - March 2, 2007

OTTAWA РAlmost 90 years after his death, Private Herbert Peterson will be laid to rest with his comrades in arms at La Chaudi̬re Military Cemetery (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) during ceremonies in France in April 2007 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

During a night raid on June 8th and 9th, 1917, 16 members of the 49th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, were reported missing and presumed dead on the German front near Vimy Ridge.

In October 2003, two sets of human remains were found during construction south of Avion, France in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge. Due to their location, associated artifacts and uniform buttons and badges, they were believed to be members of that same battalion.

The Directorate of History and Heritage, as part of their responsibilities regarding casualties and war dead of previous conflicts, is conducting a comprehensive investigation of the circumstances of the death of these two soldiers. A multi-disciplinary team with historical, documentary, forensic and genealogical expertise has successfully identified one of the two soldiers – Private Herbert Peterson. Efforts to identify the second soldier whose remains were found with those of Private Peterson are ongoing.

Private Peterson came from Barry Creek, Alberta. Born February 28th, 1895, Private Peterson was the son of Charles and Julia Peterson of Rose Lynn, Alberta. He had five brothers, Gustave, Glen, Clarence, Roland and Carl.

Private Peterson’s next-of-kin have been notified of the recovery and identification of his remains, and the plans for his interment.

The 49th Battalion is perpetuated by the Loyal Edmonton Regiment and soldiers from this unit will form the core of the burial party for Private Peterson.


I am incredibly fortunate to be the historian involved in this case. Some days I think I'm turning into a forensic historian, if such a description is viable in our community. It has been a difficult and immensely rewarding task so far, but, as is noted in the release, the work's not over as the second soldier is still in the process of being identified.

No comments: