Once lost, now found – four soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force

whole: the image occupies the whole, with the title integrated and positioned top right, in black and dark green. A subtitle is place along the bottom, in white outlined yellow. image: a lion standing on a shoreline roars across the sea towards land on the horizon. The sun rising above the distant land bears the arms of Canada. text: THE EMPIRE NEEDS MEN Answer the Call C J Patterson ENLIST NOW! Lithographed by LAWSON and JONES, Ltd. Image © IWM (Art.IWM PST 0889).

First World War Canadian recruitment poster. Image © IWM (Art.IWM PST 0889).

Last weekend, the Department of National Defence in Canada released the names of four First World War soldiers whose remains were discovered in 2006 by a French teenager, while digging in his back garden. Our very own Charlotte Czyzyk explains how she uncovered more about their stories using the records on Lives of the First World War.

Nearly a century after they died in battle, the remains of unidentified Canadian soldiers who fought in the First World War are still being found in Europe. The remains of eight soldiers were found, but so far only four have been identified through extensive DNA analysis. I have used Lives of the First World War to find out more about them.

Searching the records

Libraries and Archives Canada have supplied over 620,000 Attestations to Lives of the First World War, which are free to view.  At the time of their enrollment in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, officers completed a Declaration Paper, volunteers a two sided Attestation Paper and conscripts a single sided Enlistment form. They each contain essential details about the individual, including their date and place of birth, next of kin, place and date of enlistment and details from their medical examination.

The four men whose remains were found were all in the 78th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry:

  • Lieutenant Clifford Abram Neelands

    Clifford was born in Barrie, Ontario, and worked as a real estate agent. He joined up in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 25 May 1916, at the age of 24. Clifford served as a Lieutenant.

  • Lance Sergeant John Oscar Lindell

    John was born in Sweden on 27 December 1884. He moved to Canada and worked as a railway foreman. John enlisted on 1 July 1915 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

  • Private William Simms

    William was born in Russell, Manitoba on 6 May 1894. He worked as a farmer before joining the army on 24 January 1916, aged 21.

  • Private Lachlan McKinnon

    Lachlan was born on 15 November 1888 in Campbelltown, Scotland. He arrived in Canada in 1913 and worked as a butcher. After he enlisted in August 1915, Lachlan married Christina Rankin, also from Scotland.

Remembering their stories

All four of these men died on the same day, 8 August 1918, during the Battle of Amiens in northern France.  Their names are inscribed on the Vimy Memorial to the Missing of Canada, but now that they  have been identified it is hoped that they will be able to receive the military funeral that was afforded to many of their comrades.

Their stories have also been united in a new Lives of the First World War Community.

Do you have an ancestor who enlisted in Canada? #Remember their life story and see what more you can find out about them using Lives of the First World War.

  • Search the Life Stories of the men and women who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
  • Like our Facebook page and share your amazing discoveries with us every Friday from 12pm.
  • Charlotte Czyzyk is Life Story Coordinator at Imperial War Museums.



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