|MCpl Pat Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND|
The final chapter in the story of Pte. Kenneth Donald Duncanson, the Dunwich native whose remains were missing for over seventy years, finally came to a close on September 14. On that sunny day in the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery outside Bruges, Belgium, he was laid to rest while his family looked on. The ceremony was conducted by his unit, the Algonquin Regiment, who conducted the ceremony with full military honours. Amazingly, it was exactly seventy-two years to the day since his death, during an attempt by the Algonquins to establish a bridgehead of the Dérivation de la Lys and the Leopold Canal. For further details on his early life, death, and the discovery of his remains, please revisit my earlier post: http://tyrconnellheritagesociety.blogspot.ca/2016/05/world-war-wednesdays-peace-for-missing.html
|Lieutenant Colonel Ken McClure, Commanding Officer of The Algonquin Regiment, hands the Canadian Flag to Judith Thomas, a second cousin of Private Kenneth Duncanson. MCpl Pat Blanchard, Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND|
Earlier this fall, I was fortunate enough to meet one of the Department of National Defense Casualty Identification Program employees, who is a colleague of mine at the Bytown Museum. She worked on Pte. Duncanson's case and actually held his wedding ring and other personal effects found with him after they were sent back to Canada, and told me that one of the main identifiers of the body was a bracelet that he had been wearing at the time of his death. A gift from his wife, Lillian, it was inscribed with his name and information because she feared that the traditional paper identifiers issued by the army would be insufficient for him to be recognized if the unthinkable were to happen. Thus, although she passed away before having closure to her husband's death, she was one of the key factors in finally laying Pte. Duncanson to rest. My colleague also told me that the entire Program is extremely impressed with the response to this story they've received from Dunwich residents, and that they have never before experienced a commemoration of this magnitude for an identified war casualty. This news, of course, did not surprise me in the slightest, since I have yet to observe a locale more proud of its history than ours.
Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister
Kent Hehr, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence
Brigadier-General (Ret.) David Kettle, Secretary General, the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Many thanks to the Government of Canada for the news release describing the burial ceremony, Allister Cameron for the video link, and Angela Bobier for passing it along to me. Below, you'll find the video coverage of the ceremony courtesy of Allister.
Delany Leitch (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)