Canadian First World War soldier laid to rest by his unit

News Release

August 25, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces 

Sergeant James Alexander Milne, a First World War soldier whose remains were identified by the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), was today laid to rest with military honours by his unit, The Calgary Highlanders, in a cemetery in Arleux-en-Gohelle, France. 

Sergeant Milne was a member of the 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, a unit perpetuated by The Royal Winnipeg Rifles and The Calgary Highlanders. He died on April 28, 1917, at the age of 34, in connection with an operation against a German position known as the Arleux-Loop. 

Sergeant Milne’s remains were found in a field outside Arleux-en-Gohelle on May 13, 2013, by an archaeological team from the Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives of France, which had been carrying out a mandatory archaeological survey of the land, a known battlefield of the First World War, before the construction of a housing estate. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) was subsequently notified, and took possession of the remains and associated artefacts. Sergeant Milne was later identified by DND’s Casualty Identification Program.


“On this sombre occasion, we are given the opportunity to reflect upon the courage and determination of those Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, in the First World War and after. We are thankful for the support of our international partners who have made it possible for us to lay Sergeant Milne to rest after these many years.” 

Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister

“We pay tribute to Sergeant Milne, who gave everything for Canada, as we express our gratitude to serving and former members of our Canadian Armed Forces, who have made possible our continued enjoyment of peace and liberty. We will honour them always.” 

Kent Hehr, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence

“We are gratified to be able to afford Sergeant Milne the dignity and respect of a military burial in a Commonwealth cemetery, 100 years after his death. His personal sacrifice will never be forgotten.” 

Brigadier-General (Ret.) David Kettle, Secretary General, the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

“It is a great honour for The Calgary Highlanders, who perpetuate the 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, to properly recognize Sergeant Milne for his sacrifice and duty to Canada. Sergeant Milne is a member of our Regimental Family and we are now able to provide him with a proper resting place. In doing so, we honour the memory of one of Canada’s own, the memory of those who have fallen in combat, and the thousands of soldiers from the First World War who remain missing.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Simon Cox, Commanding Officer, The Calgary Highlanders

Quick Facts

  • Sergeant Milne was born in Gellybrands, Cookney, Kincardineshire, Scotland, on February 10, 1883. Raised by his maternal grandmother, he immigrated to Canada at some time between 1905 and 1911. An unmarried labourer, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Calgary, Alberta, on January 27, 1915, at the age of 31.

  • Sergeant Milne’s identification resulted from a review of historical context, an examination of material evidence, and forensic anthropological analysis by DND’s Casualty Identification Program. The restoration of an identification disc by the Canadian Conservation Institute was critical to the success of the investigation.

  • Orchard Dump Cemetery commemorates over 3000 Commonwealth war casualties. Many (four-fifths) of the soldiers from the First World War are unidentified, and special memorials at the site commemorate ten soldiers from the UK and four from Canada who are known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials record the names of 38 Canadian soldiers and six soldiers from the UK who were buried in other cemeteries, but whose graves were destroyed by shell fire.

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