In recent years, the number of finds of the remains of soldiers lost during the First World War has increased, thanks to considerable work and better organization of services charged with caring for their remains.

World War I first broke out in Europe in 1914 and ended in 1918, but 105 years later, the remains of three Canadian soldiers have recently been found and buried in Pomp in northern France, while more remains have been discovered over time.

Gordon Gilfeither, 77, grandson of the sister of Sergeant Masgrave (one of the three), who was in Canada's 32th Infantry Battalion and went missing at the age of <>, said: "We knew he was killed, but "having a place to visit for memory is a completely different matter." "It's a very moving day."

The remains of Sergeant Masgrave were previously found in 2017 near Lens in the Pas-de-Calais region and were buried in military ceremonies last Thursday with military honours at the nearest British cemetery in Lusagohill near two comrades-in-arms, Harry Atherten, 24, and Caboural Percy Howarth, 23.

All three were born in Britain and immigrated to Canada, where one worked as a sailor, a carpenter and a transport worker before joining the army and being sent to Europe.

They fell on the first day of the fierce Battle of Beach 70, in which more than 10,15 Canadians were killed between August 25 and 1917, <>, in an attempt to retake the strategic mining town of Lens.

Discovery of remains is now accelerating because their supervisors are former soldiers who are often sensitive to these remains (French)

Bone transplantation

For a long time, bones constantly found between Belgium and Paris were secretly transported.

Alain Jacques, director of the Department of Antiquities in Aras and one of the first to defend the systematic research of that period, explained that "during the construction of the first major infrastructures there were no rules for the exhumation of remains."

He added that contractors and farmers were reticent to report any remains they discovered for fear that doing so would disrupt their work.

The discovery of the remains is now accelerating because the workshops systematically call in demining experts, former soldiers who are often sensitive to these remains, and thanks to the presence of specialized interactive services, he said.


For two years, he has been working for the body that oversees the graves of soldiers of the former British Empire (Commonwealth War Graves Commission), anthropologists based in northern France, responsible for receiving the remains and their identification.

On the French side, the National Office of Veterans also recently appointed an anthropologist.

Stefan Nagy, head of the Commonwealth Commission's remains' receiving unit, said: "We have built a network in the world of public works, demining and police to inform us that remains have been found.

It handles the remains of about 40 to 60 people each year discovered during agricultural work or at construction sites such as wind turbines.

In its laboratories, it was able to identify about 100 Commonwealth soldiers whose remains had been removed from the ground, particularly during the construction of the new hospital in Lens.

A new cemetery with a capacity of 1200,<> graves is currently being built in Lusangohill, Britain (French)

Crucial Opportunity

The remains of dozens, possibly hundreds, could be recovered during the digging of the Seine-Nur Canal, which by 2030 will connect the Komen and Cambri rivers in the north, along 107 kilometres, 100 of which formed the front line.

"We will do our utmost to identify as many of them as possible and inform their families," UNHCR Director Claire Horton said, calling it a "short but crucial opportunity".

A new cemetery with a capacity of 1200,<> graves is currently being built in Lusangohill, next to the existing British cemetery.

"The message is that even a century later we will not forget that they gave their lives so that we can live in peace," says Gordon Gilfeither.