National Defence, Armed Forces Identify WWI Soldier

A Canadian killed in France during World War One will be laid to rest after the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces discovered his remains over 10 years ago.

Officials say they confirmed human remains found in Vendin-le-Vieil, France, in June 2011 are those of Corporal Percy Howarth, who served with the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

The federal government says crews identified Howarth’s remains in October 2021 through historical, genealogical, anthropological, archaeological and DNA analysis.

“Time and distance do not diminish the courage Corporal Howarth brought to the battlefield in service to Canada,” said Defence Minister Anita Anand.

“His family should trust that I and all Canadians will remember the ultimate sacrifice he made.”

Born on Aug. 16, 1894, in England, Howarth immigrated to Canada in 1912 and worked as a sailor in Vancouver before enlisting with the 121st Overseas Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Officials presume Howarth died after he went missing during The Battle of Hill 70, near Lens, France, which began on Aug. 15, 1917. He would have just turned 23 years old.

The Battle of Hill 70 saw nearly 10,000 Canadians killed, wounded or missing, including more than 140 men of the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

After the war, the Canadian government engraved Howarth’s name on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, commemorating soldiers who died during the First World War.

When Howarth’s remains were discovered in 2011, experts also found a few of his belongings, including a digging tool, a whistle and a pocket watch.

“Nearly 10,000 Canadians were killed, wounded or declared missing in the Battle of Hill 70, Corporal Howarth among them,” said Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

“Now, more than 100 years later we remember Corporal Howarth’s selfless courage and sacrifice in the name of duty and that of all his comrades.”

Officials say they notified Howarth’s descendants about the discovery, adding he will be buried in Commonwealth War Graves Commission Loos British Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, France.