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Canadian soldier's remains found in German war cemetery after 14 year search

Lawrence S. Gordon’s remains were identified using dental records, and will now be returned to his hometown.

Image: Greenwich Photography via Flickr/Creative Commmons

A CANADIAN WORLD War II soldier whose remains were accidentally buried in a cemetery for German soldiers in France will finally be buried in his hometown after DNA tests revealed his identity.

Officials in the northwestern town of Coutances said tests on a tooth of the fallen soldier had identified him as Lawrence S. Gordon, a Canadian who fought for the US army.

Gordon’s family had been searching for his remains since discovering in 2000 that they were not buried in the American Cemetery and Memorial in Saint-James in Normandy.


“We are ecstatic. We couldn’t be happier, having gone so far,” said his nephew and namesake Lawrence Gordon. “It’s a great day for the family.”

He said the family hoped to come to France in May or June to bring the remains back to Gordon’s hometown of Eastend in the western province of Saskatchewan.

It was unclear exactly how Gordon’s remains ended up in an ossuary in Huisnes-sur-Mer that houses the bones of nearly 12,000 German soldiers.


The tests were launched in September at the family’s request and his remains were identified thanks to DNA on his maternal line.

Gordon died aged 28 on August 13, 1944 and his family said they hoped to rebury his remains on the 70th anniversary of his death this year.

“The French have done more than their part,” his nephew said.

I want to bring my uncle home to Canada, in the village where he was born and raised… We feel exceptionally happy and very lucky that we were able to find him.

Lucien Tisserand, an expert who handles exhumations for the association that manages German war cemeteries, said he believed it was the first such discovery of falsely identified remains.

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He said Gordon’s remains seemed to have been buried among German soldiers as he had somehow ended up wearing a German-style military coat.

German pea coat

“He was classed as German because he was wearing a German pea coat. And as often happens, he no longer had his identity tags,” Tisserand said.

He had uncovered the remains for testing after finding strong similarities between Gordon’s US army anatomical records and those of a soldier buried at the German cemetery.

© AFP 2014

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