Lost then found N.B. fallen soldier honoured on Remembrance Day
Published Saturday, November 11, 2017 8:49PM AST
The recent discovery of a Canadian soldier’s remains in Europe touched close to home at a New Brunswick cenotaph on Remembrance Day.
Sgt. Harold Wilfred Shaghnessy of St. Stephen joined the war effort when he was 31-years-old in August of 1915.
Two years later he was killed during the Battle of Hill 70 in 1917.
"He was such a valiant man from his letters that I read,” says Anne Mcinskas.
It wasn’t until nearly a century passed that his remains were identified in June of 2016.
Sister, Mary Rosalie Smith drove for four days from Michigan to be in St. Stephen for Saturday’s Remembrance Day ceremony. She’s Harold’s mother’s first cousin.
“I’m very glad to be here, like I said I have spent a lot of time here in the summer,” she says.
Anne Mucinskas’s family made the journey from England to be at the ceremony as well.
“I said if you're doing anything please let me know I’d like to go up and honour my cousin,” Mucinska says.
“You know you lose track of everybody after a while, but it’s been so exciting, really thrilling,” says Smith.
CTV News spoke with the scientist who identified Shaughnessy, Sarah Lockyear, at the unveiling of the Hill 70 monument. It was there that the soldier was killed.
Lockyear is a DND casualty identification coordinator and she also hails from New Brunswick.
"When it really hits you, when you're able to attend the burials, meet the families, meet the DNA donor, sometimes that you've spoken to over the phone a number of different times, that's when it really starts to hit you,” says Lockyear.
In August, Shaughnessy was given a full military burial in France, now his family says they’re touched by the ceremony in his home province.
“It’s so great what you do here in this little town of St. Stephen,” says Mucinskas. “The people who were on the street and all the honour guard and stuff, I truly am impressed and touched.”
Family members weren’t the only ones to cross borders to attend the ceremony.
St. Croix Legion Branch 9 legion member, Darren McCabe says the ceremony was organized in a way that honoured both Shaghnessy’s legacy and the sacred day. He says while it’s not common to honour a specific individual, it was under unique circumstances.
“We balanced out between our annual Remembrance Day ceremony and honouring an individual which is not normal in a Remembrance Day ceremony,” McCabe says. “I think we found the right balance and we're pretty proud of what we've done today.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore.