Victoria WWI soldier buried in France more than 100 years after death
Published Wednesday, June 12, 2019 12:50PM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, June 12, 2019 6:39PM PDT
A Canadian soldier from Victoria who fought in the First World War has finally been laid to rest at a ceremony in France.
Alfred Newburn was buried with military honours Wednesday in a Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Loos-En-Gohelle. Members of Newburn's family and officials with Veterans Affairs Canada were in attendance for the ceremony.
Newburn enlisted to fight as a member of the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion in Victoria at the age of 16. He died fighting in the Battle of Hill 70 at the age of 18.
His remains were identified on May 27, 2019 after they were discovered near the village of Vendin-le-Vieil in July 2017.
"By honouring Private George Alfred Newburn for his service to Canada, and shedding light upon his ultimate sacrifice, we gave his family, and the greater military family, a sense of closure,” said Lieut-Gen. Charles Lamarre.
“The recovery of a missing soldier, sailor, or aviator has great meaning, regardless of how much time has passed. Today’s burial demonstrated that we will never forget our fallen."
Newburn was born on April 7, 1899 in London, England. He and his family immigrated to Canada when he was a child with plans on settling in Esquimalt, but ended up in Victoria.
He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on Nov. 6, 1915, was assigned to the 7th Infantry Battalion on August 12, 1916 and died on August 15, 1917.
"The identification and burial of Private George Alfred Newburn presents an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect upon and remember those who served during the First World War," said National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in a news release Wednesday.
"As we pay tribute to this Canadian soldier, let us never forget the courageous service of our Canadian battalions during the Battle of Hill 70."
The Battle of Hill 70 was the first major action fought by Canadian soldiers under a Canadian commander in the First World War.
Around 2,100 Canadians gave their lives in the battle. More than 1,300 have no known grave.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates the 1.7 million Commonwealth soldiers who died during the two world wars. It operates in over 150 countries around the world.