WWI Canadian soldiers' remains identified: Clifford Neelands, Lachlan McKinnon, William Simms and John Lindell died in the Battle of Amiens in 1918
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Another soldier identified: Sidney Halliday
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When a French teenager discovered the remains of eight Canadian soldiers from the First World War in his back garden, it started a chain of events that not only opened an investigation by the Department of National Defence, but brought together distant relatives from around the world, some who didn’t even realize that they had relatives that died in the war.
The Battle of Amiens took place over four days in August 1918. The conflict marked the beginning of the end of the First World War. The Allied objective was to push the German army back away from Amiens so that it would be out of artillery range. The Canadian Corps consisted of 100,000 men including the 78th Battalion. Along with the Australians, they moved forward faster than anyone expected – until they reached the town of Hallu. Here, German reinforcements put up fierce resistance – thousands of Canadians were killed. Many were buried in shallow graves close to where they fell.
Are you looking for lost relatives of your own? Read how digitized records help Canadians leaf out family tree military history on CBCnews.
After the war, nature took its course - the scarred and barren battlefields were filled with growth once more. Houses were built and gardens were landscaped. Almost a century after The War To End All Wars, teenager Fabien Demeusere went out to his back garden in search of military paraphernalia – badges, belt-buckles and cartridges. He found a treasure trove of artefacts and started to dig. When he uncovered human remains the family contacted the local gendarmerie, who notified the Commonweath War Graves Commission – a body established to oversee the burial of all Commonwealth soldiers from both the First and Second World Wars.
Photo: Rodger McLaughlin
Over several weeks of excavation, eight remains were discovered. As soon as it was confirmed they were Canadian, the Department of National Defence was informed. The task of identifying the remains fell to Casualty Identification Coordinator, Laurel Clegg. Using official war records that contained ages and heights of the missing, Laurel was able to narrow down the possibilities. Genealogist Janet Roy helped find descendants of this group. DNA was used to positively identify four of the eight: Lieutenant Clifford Neelands and Privates Lachlan McKinnon, William Simms and Sgt. John Lindell .
Forgotten No More tells the stories of these men and follows their descendants to France. Guided by historian Andrew Iarocci, the descendants visit the battlefields where the men fought, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial where they are commemorated and the cemetery at Caix where they will be buried with full military honours in 2015.
Produced by Lynne Chichakian and directed by Liam O'Rinn for CBC-TV.
FORGOTTEN NO MORE
Written, Directed and Produced by
Directors of Photography
MICHAEL SWEENEY CSC
Executive Director, Documentary Programming
Executive Producer, Doc Zone
Associate Business Manager
Assistant to Mark Starowicz
Doc Zone Theme Music
Barnardo's Children's Charity (UK)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Department of National Defence
Directorate of History and Heritage
Bridgeman Art Library
Imperial War Museum
Library & Archives Canada
Library of Congress
Royal Winnipeg Rifles Museum
CBC Documentary Unit
Room 6C200, Box 500, Station A,
Toronto, ON M5W 1E6
Produced with the participation of the
Canadian Media Fund
Produced by the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation