Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

March 15, 2011 09:00 ET

Canadian First World War Soldier Buried in France With Full Military Honours

PAS-DE-CALAIS, FRANCE--(Marketwire - March 15, 2011) - Nearly a century after his death, Private Thomas Lawless, a Canadian First World War soldier whose remains were recovered and identified on January 10, 2011, was buried today with full military honours at La Chaudière Military Cemetery, in Vimy, France.

"The courage and dedication of our Canadian First World War heroes will never be forgotten," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence.
 "After all these years, we finally recognize Private Thomas Lawless with the honour and dignity he so greatly deserves."

Private Lawless was born on April 11, 1889, in Dublin, Ireland, and enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in Calgary, Alberta. He was a member of the 49th Battalion, CEF, who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Veterans Affairs Canada has provided support to the family members of Private Lawless and has also coordinated their participation in the interment ceremony.

"It is very gratifying that we can properly lay to rest a Canadian who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our way of life," said Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture). "We are now able to share Private Lawless's full story of courage with other Canadians and assure his family that we will remember him."

In October 2003, two sets of human remains were found at a construction site in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge, France. The first soldier was identified in February 2007, as Private Herbert Peterson of Berry Creek, Alberta. On January 10, 2011, Private Lawless' remains were identified by the Casualty Identification section of the Directorate of History and Heritage after a combination of anthropological, historical and biological research such as generic testing, osteology, facial reconstruction and military historic records were conclusive. 

NOTE TO EDITORS:

In addition to today's ceremony, an unknown Canadian First World War Soldier will also be interred at Pozières British Cemetery, in Somme, France, on March 17, 2011. The soldier's skeletal remains were found on the Butterworth Farm property, in Pozières, on April 9, 2009. Due to a lack of evidence, he could not be identified. 

For further information on these interment ceremonies, please contact the Department of National Defence Media Liaison Office at 1-866-377-0811 or (613)996-2353.

Imagery of today's interment ceremony will be posted on the Canadian Forces Image Gallery site at www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca.

For information on the Department of National Defence's casualty identification process, please visit: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/news-nouvelles-eng.asp?cat=00&id=3725.

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