Unknown soldiers and Private John Lambert to be laid to rest in Europe
June 8, 2022 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Three unknown soldiers associated with the Battle of Hill 70 will be laid to rest with military honours at Loos British Cemetery, Loos-en-Gohelle, France, at the end of June. Two of the soldiers will be buried as Unknown Soldiers of the Great War, as confirmation that they are Canadian could not be obtained. The third soldier will be buried as an Unknown Canadian Soldier from the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles.
The remains of the three soldiers were discovered during construction projects near Lens, France, in 2011 and 2017. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was notified, and took possession of the remains and associated artefacts. The cases were subsequently investigated by the Canadian Armed Forces’ Casualty Identification Program and closed in November 2019. Maternal and paternal DNA profiles have been obtained from these sets of remains with the hope of future identification.
Days after the ceremony for the unknown soldiers, Private John Lambert will be buried by his unit, The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, at New Irish Farm Cemetery in West-Vlaanderen, Belgium, in a joint ceremony with the United Kingdom. Private Lambert died at the age of 17 in August 1917 at the Battle of Langemarck. His remains were discovered in 2016, and his identification was announced by the Department of National Defence in December 2020.
Private Lambert will be buried alongside two unknown British soldiers of unknown regiments, an unknown British soldier of the Royal Inniskilling Regiment, an unknown British soldier of the Hampshire Regiment, an unknown British soldier of the Royal Fusiliers, and an unknown German soldier. Private Lambert’s family and government representatives will be in attendance.
The public is welcome to attend both ceremonies.
- The burials of the three unknown soldiers will take place at 2:00 p.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST) on June 27, 2022 at Loos British Cemetery, Loos-en-Gohelle in France.
- The burial of Private John Lambert, the unknown British soldiers and the unknown German soldier will take place at 11 a.m. Central European Summer Time (CEST) on June 30, 2022 at New Irish Farm Cemetery, near Ypres in Belgium. The public is asked to arrive no later than 10:30 a.m. and to understand that space may be limited.
“The families of Canadian soldiers missing in action should know that this country will never forget the ultimate sacrifice made by these courageous men. We cannot put a name on all their headstones, or comfort their loved ones, but their story endures, and the memory of their bravery and dedication to serving Canada will be carried in our hearts.”
The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence
“Those who put on the uniform give up so much in service to Canada and those who make the ultimate sacrifice must never be forgotten – it is our duty to remember them. I join all Canadians in remembering and paying tribute to these courageous soldiers.”
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
The Canadian Armed Forces’ Casualty Identification Program works to identify unknown Canadian service members when their remains are recovered. The program also identifies service members previously buried as unknown soldiers when there is sufficient evidence to confirm the identification.
Veterans Affairs Canada works with the Casualty Identification Program to identify next of kin and supports the participation of the two closest next of kin in the burial ceremony overseas, so that they might understand more of the story and experience of their lost family member.
Following the discovery of the remains of British Service personnel from historic conflicts, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) will conduct their investigations in an attempt to identify the individual and trace any living relatives in order for them to be invited to a full military service, be it a re-interment or rededication service.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two world wars. Using an extensive archive, the Commission works with their partners to recover, investigate, and identify those with no known grave to give them the dignity of burial and the commemoration they deserve.
Department of National Defence
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