NEWS
05/28/2019 11:32 EDT

B.C. Soldier's Remains Identified More Than 100 Years After His Death

Pte. George Alfred Newburn was one of the nearly 10,000 Canadians who died during the Battle of Hill 70 in France.

Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images
This photo taken on May 8, 2014, shows a small roadside memorial to the Battle of Hill 70 in northern France.

OTTAWA — The remains of a Canadian soldier who was only 18 when he was killed in the First World War have been identified in France, more than 100 years after his death.

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces say the remains were discovered in July 2017 near the village of Vendin-le-Vieil and were identified earlier this year as those of Pte. George Alfred Newburn.

He enlisted in Esquimalt, B.C., at the age of 16 and died barely two years later on Aug. 15, 1917, during the first day of the Battle of Hill 70, a diversionary offensive aimed at distracting German reinforcements away from the Passchendaele battlefield.

In a statement, National Defence says Newburn was born in England but moved with his family to British Columbia.

He was assigned to the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force just three days before the battle.

Watch: You can now see Canada’s First World War photos in colour. Story continues below.

 

The department says members of Newburn’s family have been notified and he will be will be buried June 12 in France by his regiment, which is now known as the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own), based in Vancouver.

The ceremony will take place at the Loos British Cemetery outside Loos-en-Gohelle.

More than 9,000 Canadian soldiers died in the Battle of Hill 70.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says honouring the service of fallen members is a dearly held value of the Canadian Armed Forces.

“In June, we’ll pay tribute to Pte. George Alfred Newburn as we will lay him to rest in the place he helped to liberate. Let us never forget the courage of our Canadian battalions during the Battle of Hill 70, and forever honour their service,” Sajjan says in the statement.