A picture of Number 1 Company of the 7th Battalion in August 1916 at around the time Private George Alfred Newburn joined the battalion. It is believed that he served in Number 1 Company. (Courtesy of The British Columbia Regiment, Duke of Connaughts Own)

Remains of B.C. soldier identified in France, more than a century after death

Pte. George Alfred Newburn enlisted in Esquimalt at the age of 16 and died barely two years later

The remains of a Canadian soldier who was only 18 when he was killed in the First World War have been identified in France, more than 100 years after his death.

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces say the remains were discovered in July 2017 near the village of Vendin-le-Vieil and were identified earlier this year as those of Pte. George Alfred Newburn.

READ MORE: Belgian man searches for family of fallen First World War soldier from Victoria

He enlisted in Esquimalt at the age of 16 and died barely two years later on Aug. 15, 1917, during the first day of the Battle of Hill 70, a diversionary offensive aimed at distracting German reinforcements away from the Passchendaele battlefield.

In a statement, National Defence says Newburn was born in England but moved with his family to B.C.

He was assigned to the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force just three days before the battle.

The department says members of Newburn’s family have been notified and he will be will be buried June 12 in France by his regiment, which is now known as the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own), based in Vancouver.

The ceremony will take place at the Loos British Cemetery outside Loos-en-Gohelle.

More than 9,000 Canadian soldiers died in the Battle of Hill 70.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajan says honouring the service of fallen members is a dearly held value of the Canadian Armed Forces.

“In June, we’ll pay tribute to Pte. George Alfred Newburn as we will lay him to rest in the place he helped to liberate. Let us never forget the courage of our Canadian battalions during the Battle of Hill 70, and forever honour their service,” Sajan says in the statement.

The Canadian Press

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