Private Thomas Lawless

In 2003, two sets of skeletal remains were discovered near Avion, France. One set of remains was identified as those of Private Thomas Lawless.

Thomas Lawless was born in April 1889 in Dublin, Ireland. In 1908-09, he immigrated to Canada and settled in Alberta. He worked as a farm hand and laborer and was unmarried prior to enlistment with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF).

In November 1915, he enlisted in the 89th Overseas Battalion, CEF in Calgary, Alberta. In August 1916, Lawless embarked for Britain. He was then transferred into the 49th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Edmonton Regiment)CEF and disembarked in France a month later.

He served with the 49th Battalion until his death on 9 June 1917. Following the war, Private Lawless’s name was engraved on theCanadian National Vimy Memorial commemorating Canadian soldiers who died during the First World War and have no known grave.

In October 2003, two sets of remains were discovered by two workmen in a construction site near the city of Avion, France. Artefacts found with the remains indicated that the remains were those of a soldier from the Canadian Expeditionary Force. These artefacts included battalion-specific buttons which indicated that the remains were those of soldiers from the 49th Battalion.

Using historical, genealogical, anthropological, archaeological, DNA and stable isotope analysis, the Casualty Identification Program was able to confirm the identity of one set of remains as Private Thomas Lawless in January 2011. This case also allowed the Program to explore the use of facial reconstruction. The other set of remains was successfully identified as Private Herbert Peterson in 2007.

Private Lawless was buried in March 2011 in Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s La Chaudière Military Cemetery , in Vimy, France alongside Private Herbert Peterson.

For further information on Private Thomas Lawless you can view his personnel file on the web site of Library and Archives Canada.

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