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B.C. battalion soldier ID'd in France 105 years after First World War

The remains of Sgt. Richard Musgrave were found during a munitions clearing process north of Lens, France in July 2017.
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The remains of Sgt. Richard Musgrave (pictured right) were found at the site of a 1917 First World War battle that claimed 10,000 Canadian lives.

The Canadian military has confirmed remains recovered from a First World War French battlefield are those of a member of a B.C. infantry battalion.

The identity of Sgt. Richard Musgrave's remains was confirmed through historical, genealogical, anthropological, archaeological and DNA analysis.

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces said March 30 that Musgrave’s skeletal remains were recovered on July 17, 2017, during a munitions clearing process north of Lens, France.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission staff took the remains and several artifacts, including a Military Medal ribbon and a whistle.

Musgrave will be buried at the earliest opportunity in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Loos British Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, France.

Musgrave was born in Blackrigg, Scotland in 1884. He had worked as a teamster in Calgary before enlisting at the age of 30 with the 56th Overseas Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in April 1915.

After sailing from Montreal aboard S.S. Elele and training in England, then-private Musgrave travelled to France in February 1916, as a member of the 7th Infantry Battalion (British Columbia).

He was promoted to sergeant in March 1917, was wounded in April but remained on duty, and was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in July of that year.

It was in August 1917 that Musgrave fought with the 7th Battalion during the first day of the Battle of Hill 70 near Lens.

He was reported missing that day and was presumed to have died as part of the battle. He was 32 years old.

That battle saw a heavy toll of more than 10,000 Canadians killed, wounded, or missing. More than 140 men of the 7th Battalion were killed, 118 of them missing and never found.

Following the war, Musgrave’s name was engraved on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France commemorating Canadian soldiers who died during the First World War and have no known grave.

The Canadian Armed Forces has notified the family of Musgrave’s identification and is providing them with ongoing support.

The Canadian Armed Forces Casualty Identification Program works to identify missing war dead from the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean Conflict.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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