Private Kenneth Duncanson now lies in his final resting place at the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery, near Brugge, Belgium, on September 14, 2016. Private Duncanson died exactly 72 years ago during World War 2.

Discovered in farmer's field by a hobbyist with a metal detector in Belgium Private Kenneth Duncanson now lies in his final resting place at the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery, near Brugge, Belgium, on September 14, 2016. Private Duncanson died exactly 72 years ago during World War 2.
Photo Credit: MCpl Pat Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera,

Unknown soldiers: finally finding names, closure

It is at one and the same time a sad, but also rewarding task: discovering the identities of the unknown fallen soldiers on the battlefields around the world.

In Canada that work is performed by a special department which works in cooperation with a variety of overseas agencies and experts when remains are found.

Sarah Lockyer (PhD) is a forensic and bio-archeology expert and the Casualty Identification Coordinator with the Department of Defence

Listen
Sarah Lockyer (PhD) is forensic and bio-archaeology expert and the Casualty Identification Coordinator with the Department of National Defence
Sarah Lockyer (PhD) is forensic and bio-archaeology expert and the Casualty Identification Coordinator with the Department of National Defence © DND

Around the world there are still some 27,000 Canadians who volunteered to go to war and who are missing and have no known grave.

Process.

When remains are found, say somewhere in Europe, the local police are usually the first to be notified. They then determine if the remains are of war dead. Depending on artefacts or other indications, the police or or other experts may then determine the country of origin for the soldier, and if from the Commonwealth, then the  Commonwealth War Graves Commission is notified.  If the remains are found to be Canadian, then the Canadian authorities and Casualty Identification programme joins the scene.

The work of identification can at times be an incredible amount of detective work.

 Mr. Luc Snauwaert and his wife, Mrs. Brigitte De Meyer, farmers near Moerkerke, Belgium, explain where Private Duncanson’s remains were found in their fields, near Moerkerke, Belgium, on September 13, 2016.
Mr. Luc Snauwaert and his wife, Mrs. Brigitte De Meyer, farmers near Moerkerke, Belgium, explain where Private Duncanson’s remains were found in their fields, near Moerkerke, Belgium, on September 13, 2016 © MCpl Pat Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera,

It can involve military historians, forensic scientists, archaeologists Canadian and foreign, and genealogy experts, who through their various combined skills  determine what military groups were in that area, who was reported missing, then comparing statistical data, height, potential age, dental records etc, perhaps DNA. Always of course with the greatest respect possible for the remains of a young man who fought and died for his country.

Artefacts found with Pte. Duncanson in Moerkerke, Belguim on 13 Sep 2016 including shovel, bren gun magazines, cup, canteens, entrenching tool, spike bayonet and scabbard for the Lee-Enfield, mess tin, helmet, wallet, etc
Artefacts found with Pte. Duncanson in Moerkerke, Belguim on 13 Sep 2016 including shovel, bren gun magazines, cup, canteens, entrenching tool, spike bayonet and scabbard for the Lee-Enfield rifle, mess tin, helmet, wallet, etc. © DND

Through this collaboration effort they are often able to eventually determine and put a name to the remains, which are then given a proper military burial. Sometimes however, there are not enough remains to put a name to the soldier, who sadly is interred as unknown.

Pte Duncanson, KIA Sept 1944

Sometimes as in the case of Pte Kenneth Duncanson, killed in Belgium in the Second World War, the artefacts are well preserved leading to a much easier identification. Including in this case, items in his wallet.

 Lieutenant Colonel Ken McClure, Commanding Officer of The Algonquin Regiment, hands the Canadian Flag to Judith Thomas, a second cousin of Private Kenneth Duncanson during a burial ceremony at the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery, near Brugge, Belgium, on September 14, 2016. Private Duncanson died exactly 72 years ago during the Second World War
Lieutenant Colonel Ken McClure, Commanding Officer of The Algonquin Regiment, hands the Canadian Flag to Judith Thomas, a second cousin of Private Kenneth Duncanson during a burial ceremony at the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery, near Brugge, Belgium, on September 14, 2016. Private Duncanson died exactly 72 years ago during the Second World War. © MCpl Pat Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera

Ms Lockyer feels it is an honour to be involved in this effort, and a satisfying feeling to finally put  the name to the soldier, and bring closure to living relatives who are most greatful for the team’s efforts.

additional information-

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in History, International, Military, Science and Technology

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

One comment on “Unknown soldiers: finally finding names, closure
  1. Ronald Lucas says:

    Hi, I have visited Vimy and Hill 70 my grandfather was killed in the Battle for Hill 70 on August 15th 1917 his body was never found. His name is on the Vimy memorial I plan to visit Hill 70 in September to see the new memorial. I would like to get mopre information about the bodies that have been found.