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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Canadian WW2 Remains Identified as Pvt. K. Duncanson

DND Press Release
Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have identified the remains of a Second World War soldier found in a farmer’s field near Molentje, Damme, Belgium, as those of Private Kenneth Donald Duncanson from Dutton, Ontario. Private Duncanson was a member of The Algonquin Regiment, which served in 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Armoured Division in Northwest Europe.

DND and the CAF have notified members of Private Duncanson’s family, and Veterans Affairs Canada is providing the family with ongoing support as final arrangements are made. Private Duncanson’s remains will be interred at Adegem Canadian War Cemetery in Belgium in the fall of 2016 by his Regiment. Next-of-kin have been invited to attend.

Adegem Canadian War Cemetery, Belgium (Commonwealth War Graves Commission)
DND’s Casualty Identification Program exists to identify unknown soldiers when their remains are discovered so that they may be buried with a name by their Regiment and in the presence of their family. In meeting this aim, the program fosters a sense of continuity and identity within the CAF, as it provides an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect upon the experiences of those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“We are grateful for the dedication of the Raakvlak Intercommunal Archaeological Service of Belgium, and the support of our international partners, which ultimately made it possible for our officers to identify Private Duncanson, and to provide a sense of closure to his family, his Regiment, and the country which he served. He will not be forgotten.” - Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister

“Private Duncanson gave his life in service to Canada during the Second World War. Now, finally, he may be solemnly laid to rest with the honour and dignity he deserves.”- Kent Hehr, Veterans Affairs Minister and Associate Minister of National Defence

Private Duncanson was born in Wallacetown, Ontario, on June 7, 1915. He married in 1939 and lived in Dutton, Ontario. He enlisted in the Canadian Army on August 24, 1942. He joined The Algonquin Regiment in April 1944.

Private Duncanson was killed on September 14, 1944, during an attempt by the Algonquin Regiment to establish a bridgehead crossing of the Dérivation de la Lys and the Leopold Canal, at the hamlet of Molentje, now in the municipality of Damme, Belgium. This was part of the preliminary battles leading up to the Battle of the Scheldt. Private Duncanson was 29 at the time of his death.
His name is recorded on panel 11 of the Groesbeek Memorial at the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands, which commemorates by name more than 1,000 members of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the campaign in Northwest Europe between the time of crossing the Seine at the end of August 1944 and the end of the war in Europe, and whose graves are not known.

On Remembrance Day, November 11, 2014, a metal detector hobbyist discovered the remains of Private Duncanson in a farmer’s field near Molentje, Damme, Belgium.

Subsequently, the remains were fully recovered by the Raakvlak Intercommunal Archaeological Service of Bruges, Belgium, with assistance from DND’s Casualty Identification Program, and with the support of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Canadian Embassy in Brussels, and the Canadian Defence Attaché in Paris.

Private Duncanson’s identification resulted from a combination of historical context, anthropological analysis, artefact evidence, and dental records. The identification was made by the Casualty Identification Program, with the assistance of the Royal Canadian Dental Corps and the Canadian Museum of History.