01/06/2016 23:26 EST | Updated 01/06/2017 00:12 EST

Historian's mission is to find missing remains of soldiers at Vimy Ridge

An Ottawa historian has undertaken a mission to give proper burials to more than 40 Canadian soldiers killed at Vimy Ridge.

Norm Christie, an author and History Television host, says that on April 9, 1917, a unit of the Canadian Scottish regiment attacked across a field in northern France.

During the heat of battle, 44 of the dead were buried in a crater which was marked CA40, including William Milne of Moose Jaw, Sask., a Victoria Cross winner.

Christie says the dead — including 10 members of the 113th Battalion Lethbridge Highlanders — were supposed to be exhumed and relocated to a nearby cemetery called Nine Elms, but it never happened.

Christie and his supporters are trying to raise money for non-destructive testing in order to find the exact location of the mass grave, which he suspects is in the middle of a farmer's potato field.

So far, they have raised just $22,000 of their goal of $110,000.

“I think if we can recover them, than we should recover them,” says Christie. “It’s a real statement about a country how you treat your dead and these are, really, Canadian heroes who gave their lives for Canada on one of the most significant dates of our history.”

Christie says residents in the village of Thelus, France, and area farmers have given their consent to have the area explored.

On his organization's website, Christie notes that recent work by the Australians have resulted in the recovery of 150 Australian remains.

He says there is no reason why Canadians can’t also show that level of determination and pride.

(CJOC, CHED, The Canadian Press)


The Canadian Press