A news release from the Canadian Department of National Defence on the identification of a First World War casualty. Alexander Johnston was born in the town I was brought up in...
OTTAWA – The Department of National Defence (DND) has identified the remains of a First World War soldier found in Raillencourt Saint-Olle, France, in 2008, as those of Private Alexander Johnston of Hamilton, Ontario.
“This identification will provide closure to Private Johnston’s family, as well as reassure them that the ultimate sacrifice he made in the name of his country will never be forgotten,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “Our Canadian soldier will finally be laid to rest with the military honours that he so rightfully deserves.”
In July 2008, human remains were discovered in Raillencourt Saint-Olle, France. Found with the remains were two collar badges of the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). The Directorate of History and Heritage was notified of the discovery in February 2009, and the remains were identified through mitochondrial DNA testing, as those of Private Johnston, on March 31, 2011.
DND has since notified members of Private Johnston's family of the identification. Veterans Affairs Canada will have the responsibility of providing them with ongoing support as arrangements are made and carried out for the final interment.
Private Alexander Johnston was born in Coatbridge, Scotland on August 20, 1885, and moved to Hamilton, Ontario, in his late twenties. He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force on January 5, 1918, and was taken on strength of the 78th Battalion in the field on September 4, 1918. Private Johnston died during the Battle of the Canal du Nord on September 29, 1918. His remains will be interred at Le Cantimpré Canadian Cemetery in Sailly, France, in October 2011 with his family in attendance.
For more 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.