Canadian flag and statue depicting armed forces
Four Canadian soldiers killed in the First World War will finally be laid to rest Thursday in northern France, a century after their deaths, local authorities said Tuesday.
Reported missing in August 1917, the four men aged 20 to 33 were killed during fierce fighting to recapture a position from German troops near Lens in northern France, according to a Canadian ministry of defence statement.
This offensive, led by Canadian troops between August 15 and 25, left more than 10,000 dead, including over 1,300 without a known burial.
The remains of the four soldiers were found between 2010 and 2016 during an operation to destroy old munitions and on a construction site near Lens.
They will be buried on Thursday in the presence of their families in a ceremony organised by the Canadian Armed Forces at a British military cemetery in the town of Loos-en-Gohelle, the prefecture said.
The Canadian ministry of defence identified them last October using forensic anthropological analysis, historical research and DNA analysis.
Discoveries of hurridly-buried remains near the trenches are “frequent” in the local department of Pas-de-Calais, the prefecture said.
More than 20 bodies of soldiers have been exhumed since November on the site of the future Lens Hospital, according to the regional newspaper La Voix du Nord.