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Webmatters : Reburials at Caix British Cemetery 2015

Caix British Cemetery

Reburials

13th May 2015

Every year, bodies are recovered from the battlefields of France and Belgium. Sometimes it is just an individual, at times groups of soldiers.

In the case of members of the various services of the British Empire the remains are held by the CWGC whilst efforts are made to identify them. Years can pass whilst the historians attempt to piece together the story. Sometimes the bodies help in identifying to whom they belonged : a cap badge, formation badge or signs of rank. Rare are the times that a body is recovered with something personal on him.

More often than not the battlefield has to be studied to identify who was in the area on a given date. From there the records may suggest a list of casualties.

Even if a list of possible casualties is obtained it is no simple task to resolve the equation. We are all aware of DNA and how it can be used to identify families and people. It is not possible however to always recover a sample of DNA from a hundred year old corpse, and even if it does prove possible to make an identification it is necessary to have a sample from a relative.

Finding the relatives is far from being an easy task.

The story for these eight Canadian soldiers is almost typical.

The remains of the eight men were discovered by 14 year old Fabien Demeusere who was happily playing in the garden of the family farm at Hallu when he found a skull in 2006. Further remains were found in 2007. Items on the bodies indicated that they were First World War soldiers of the Canadian Forces — specifically men from Winnipeg’s 78th Battalion Canadian Infantry — also known as the Winnipeg Grenadiers.

Research conducted by the Canadian military authorities established that the soldiers were killed on 11th August 1918 during an advance to capture the small village of Hallu. This was during the Battle of Amiens and not far from the plaque to the 48th Highlanders of Canada, at Warvillers.

After eight years of anthropological and historical research that included DNA testing, it proved possible to identify five of the men :

  • Lieutenant Clifford Abraham Neelands
  • Private Sidney Halliday, 148581
  • Lance Sergeant John Oscar Lindell, 147186
  • Private Lachlan McKinnon, 148130
  • Private William Simms, 148691

Numerous descendants of the five soldiers attended the reburial organised by the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

 

Some photos from the burials

Fabien Demeusere on the left

Click on the thumbnail for a larger version

 


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

CWGC Poppy Button