Almost one year after the discovery of a World War One soldier near the village of Vendin-le-Vieil, France, the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have identified the soldier as Sgt. Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy of St. Stephen, N.B..
Born in St. Stephen, N.B. on Nov. 3, 1884, Sgt. Shaughnessy was a stenographer prior to enlisting in Montreal on Aug. 4, 1915, at the age of 31.
Sgt. Shaughnessy was a member of the 13 Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, a unit perpetuated by The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, of Montreal.
On Aug. 15, 1917, Sgt. Shaughnessy became one of the approximately 2,100 Canadians killed during the Battle of Hill 70. He was 33 at the time.
The Battle of Hill 70 was the first major action fought by the Canadian Corps under a Canadian commander during the First World War. More than 1,300 of the soldiers lost during this battle have no known graves.
“We will remember Sergeant Shaughnessy as one of over 2000 brave Canadians who gave their lives in the Battle of Hill 70. Their courage and determination has not diminished with the century that has passed. We honour and remember them,” said Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan.
On June 6, 2016, Sgt. Shaughnessy’s body was discovered, along with First World War artifacts, during a munitions clearing process in advance of a construction project near the village of Vendin-le-Vieil, France.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission took possession of the remains and the artifacts, transporting them to a CWGC facility in Beaurains, France, for safekeeping.
Sgt. Shaughnessy’s identification was made possible from a review of historical context; an examination of material evidence, including the identification disc and a signet ring; and forensic anthropological analysis by DND Casualty Identification program.
"We have the privilege to mark Sergeant Shaughnessy’s place of rest so that all who pass by will make note of his sacrifice,” said BGen. (ret’d) David Kettle, Secretary General, the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The CAF and DND have notified members of Sgt. Shaughnessy’s family and Veterans Affairs Canada is proving them with ongoing support.
Sgt. Shaughnessy is expected to be buried at Loos British Cemetery outside Loos-en-Gohelle, France, later this year by his Regiment.
“Like all of the men and women who gave their lives in the war effort, Sergeant Shaughnessy will be revered and remembered by a grateful nation,” said Kent Hehr, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence.