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Missing Canadian soldier finally laid to rest in France after being killed in WW I battle

Missing Canadian soldier finally laid to rest in France after being killed in WW I battle

An extended lacking WW I soldier with ties to Calgary has been discovered, recognized and eventually laid to relaxation in France this month.

Personal Harry Atherton was reported lacking and presumed lifeless on Aug. 15, 1917 — the primary day of the Battle of Hill 70 close to Lens, France.

In June 2017, human skeletal stays have been present in France by a munitions clearing group on land destined for building.

After a prolonged identification course of, these stays and different clues like a broken identification badge have been decided to be these of Atherton.

Main David Peabody on the grave of his uncle, Thomas J. Gorman, who was killed in 1916. Peabody travelled to France as a part of a contingent of the Calgary Highlanders to assist lay three Canadian WW I soldier to relaxation. (Submitted by Dave Peabody)

Final week, Atherton was buried with navy honours within the Loos British Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, France, alongside two different Canadian troopers who had just lately been recognized.

The navy funeral was attended by a contingent of the Calgary Highlanders, his perpetuating unit, and by family members of the troopers.

Main David Peabody, operations officer with the Highlanders, a Calgary-based reserve regiment with the Canadian Military, travelled from Calgary to Lens for the funeral.

“I believe for us as troopers, it’s actually significant for us to really feel that after that point has handed, Canada continues to be taking a look at making certain that these individuals get a correct burial and are taken care of, that they’re not forgotten,” he stated.

Peabody says he had a dialog with a distant relative of Atherton’s on the funeral, they usually mentioned a set of pen knives discovered on Atherton when he was rediscovered.

“One of many relations simply, his eyes broad. And he stated, ‘I’ve acquired a group of pen knives. And it’s come down by the household,’” stated Peabody.

“I believe the burden of what this meant hit him. So watching that occur was one thing particular.”

Discovering misplaced troopers

The invention of Atherton, and different Canadian troopers in France, just isn’t as unusual as it could appear.

The danger of unexploded ordinances within the soil requires that areas be swept earlier than any building, resulting in discoveries of human stays yearly in nations like France and Belgium.

“The bulk are British. Generally there’s some German people in there, nevertheless it’s upward of fifty skeletons per 12 months which are found,” stated Sarah Lockyer, a casualty identification co-ordinator with the Division of Nationwide Defence.

A capbadge featuring a beaver Canadian maple leads a crowns and the phrase '10th Canadians' and a small round disk with some legible numbers and letters on it.
A cap badge, left, and a broken identification disc discovered alongside the stays of personal Atherton throughout a munitions clearing course of close to Rue Léon Droux in Vendin-le-Vieil, France. (Division of Nationwide Defence)

The three Canadian troopers who have been just lately laid to relaxation have been all discovered close to the placement of the Battle of Hill 70. Corporal Percy Howarth was present in 2011, and Atherton and sergeant Richard Musgrave have been present in 2017.

In Atherton’s case, an insignia of the tenth Battalion and a broken identification disc contained clues about who he was.

However discovering the stays of troopers is just step one in a protracted technique of identification, says Lockyer.

The situation of the findings have to be related to the historic battles in that space, a forensic anthropological evaluation checks for DNA after which family tree analysis can be carried out.


The Homestretch9:39WWI troopers recognized and returned residence

Some Canadian households have been lastly in a position to lay their ancestors to relaxation final week in France. The stays of three troopers from the First World Warfare have been present in France over the past decade – together with one solider who died preventing with the Calgary Highlanders. Sarah Lockyer is a casualty identification coordinator with the Canadian Armed Forces, who labored to determine the stays.

Lockyer says it’s work she loves with the ability to do for the report of historical past and to deliver closure to households.

“For me, as a forensic anthropologist, it’s the fruits of all the pieces. Like they’ve their identify again, they’ve their face again —and that’s priceless.”

Portions of a collar with a large tarnished 'C' over a '10'.
The stays of a Canadian C10 collar badge discovered with the stays of personal Harry Artherton. (Division of Nationwide Defence)

Who was Harry Atherton

Atherton was born in Leigh, England, in 1892 to James Henry Atherton and Sarah Atherton.

In 1913, Atherton moved alone to Canada, settling in McBride, B.C. He was a carpenter by commerce earlier than enlisting in Edmonton in 1916.

He was a member of the tenth Canadian Infantry Battalion, which after the conflict was renamed the Calgary Highlanders.

Arriving in Liverpool, England, through New Brunswick in 1917, Atherton fought in lots of battles. He was injured and recovered in England earlier than returning to the entrance.

He died in what is named the Battle of Hill 70, the profitable seize of a big excessive space close to town of Lens, France, held by German forces.

Atherton was reported as killed in motion on Aug. 15, 1917. He was 24 years previous.

His identify is engraved on the Canadian Nationwide Vimy Memorial, listed among the many names of troopers who don’t have any identified grave. Though now, for personal Harry Atherton, that’s not the case.

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