Remains of previously unknown Canadian First World War soldier identified in France

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The grave of a previously unknown First World War soldier has been identified, the Department of National Defence said Monday.

Sgt.-Maj. Alexander McVean served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in France CBC News

· Posted: Dec 04, 2023 6:46 PM EST | Last Updated: December 4, 2023

The human remains in a First World War grave have been identified as Sgt.-Maj. Alexander McVean, left. (Toronto Scottish Regiment Archives) The grave of a previously unknown First World War soldier has been identified, the Department of National Defence said Monday.

A grave in the Courcelette British Cemetery in Courcelette, France belongs to Sgt.-Maj. Alexander McVean, a defence department press release said. Historical and archival research dating back to 2019 concluded that the grave could only belong to McVean, the release said.

McVean was born in Scotland in 1889 and served in the British Army Reserve before emigrating to Canada in 1911. In 1915, he enlisted with the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

McVean’s battalion saw action in the Battle of the Ancre, which concluded the larger five-month Battle of the Somme. More than 100 men from the 75th Battalion died — 71 of them have no known graves. McVean was reported wounded and died at the age of 27.

McVean’s family has been notified, the press release said. The headstone will be rededicated and marked with McVean’s name.

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