Sergeant Richard Musgrave, MM

In 2017, human remains were found north of Lens, France. The remains were confirmed as those of Sergeant Richard Musgrave, MM.

Richard Musgrave was born 22 September 1884 in Blackrigg, Canomie, Scotland. His only listed parent was Rebecca Musgrave. Their family included Richard’s sister Jeannie (Jane) Musgrave. Before enlisting, Richard was working as a Teamster in Calgary, Alberta.

On 30 April 1915 at age 30, Richard enlisted with the 56th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in Calgary, Alberta. On 5 July 1915, he sailed from Montreal aboard S.S. Elele headed to Shorncliffe Army Camp in England for training. On 17 February 1916, Private Musgrave travelled to France as a new member of the 7th Infantry Battalion (British Columbia), CEF. Throughout 1916, Musgrave was promoted up the ranks until achieving the rank of sergeant on 19 March 1917. On 14 April 1917, Sergeant Musgrave was wounded, but it was minor enough to stay on duty. On 9 July 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.

On 15 August 1917, Sergeant Musgrave fought with the 7th Battalion during the first day of the Battle of Hill 70 near Lens, France. The 7th Battalion fought on the far left side of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade. The 7th Battalion took part in the second wave of attacks between the Blue and Red Line objectives. The fight for the Red Line was difficult as the Germans held strongly to their positions. The Canadians, including the 7th Battalion , suffered heavy casualties as they fought their way forward past the Red Line to the Green Line objective. However, soon after passing the Red Line, they had to withdraw back to it since their left side was exposed. The 10th Infantry Battalion, CEF then advanced from behind the 7th Battalion to help hold the position against heavy German counterattacks. While the Green Line was successfully captured the following day, the battle continued until 25 August and cost over 10,000 Canadian casualties (killed, wounded, or missing). The 7th Battalion had over 140 men killed, 118 of whom were missing and never found. Sergeant Musgrave, age 32, was reported missing on 15 August 1917 and was presumed to have died as part of the battle.

Following the war, Sergeant Musgrave’s name was engraved on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial commemorating Canadian soldiers who died during the First World War and have no known grave.

On 11 July 2017, skeletal human remains were discovered during a munitions clearing process near rue Léon Droux and rue des Poissonniers, north of Lens, France. A few artifacts were found with the remains, including a Military Medal ribbon and a whistle.

Through historical, genealogical, anthropological, archaeological, and DNA analysis, with the assistance of the Canadian Forces Forensic Odontology Response Team, and the Canadian Museum of History, the Casualty Identification Review Board was able to confirm the identity of the remains as those of Sergeant Richard Musgrave in October 2021.

Sergeant Richard Musgrave was buried on 8 June 2023 in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Loos British Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, France by members of The British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own) from Vancouver, British Columbia. Attending the burial were family members, as well as representatives from the Government of Canada, the local French government, and the Canadian Armed Forces.

For further information on Sergeant Musgrave, you can view his personnel file on Library and Archives Canada’s website.

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