ARCHIVED - Identification of a missing Second World War Canadian casualty

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News Release / May 30, 2008 / Project number: NR – 08.032

OTTAWA, Ont. – The Department of National Defence (DND), with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), revealed that the human remains found in Haut Mesnil, France, are those of Private Ralph Ferns, a Canadian soldier during the Second World War, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The body of Private Ferns was discovered in a quarry in Haut Mesnil, eighteen kilometres north of Falaise, in March 2005, by residents who also found a badge from the Royal Regiment of Canada (RRC). The soldier died in the battle of the Falaise Gap in August 1944, two months after Allied troops landed in Normandy.

It was determined in April 2008, by the Directorate of History and Heritage (DHH), that historical, anthropological and dental evidence combined indicate that the remains found are those of Private Ferns.

“We are thankful that Private Ferns’ family will finally have some closure and be able to see him laid to rest with the honour he deserves,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. “Private Ferns' service and contribution to the Canadian Forces (CF) and to Canada in the Second World War will not be forgotten.”

Veterans Affairs Canada has made contact with the members of Private Ferns’ family and will provide on-going support to the family as arrangements are made and carried out for the final interment.

“Once again, we are reminded of the value of a single human life and the debt of gratitude we owe to all those who have sacrificed their lives for our tomorrow,” said the Honourable Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs.

“Private Ferns paid the ultimate price so that others might live free.” Private Ferns will be laid to rest at the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in Normandy, France.


Note for news and assignment editors:

For further information, please contact the Media Liaison Office at the Department of National Defence at 866-377-0811, Janice Summerby, Media Relations Advisor for Veterans Affairs Canada at 613-992-7468 or Richard Roik, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs at 613-996-4649.

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