The Battle of Hill 70, Casualty Identification

Newspaper Clipping
Clipping describing Sergeant Shaughnessy’s
service and confirming his death. Source:
From the "McGill Honour Roll, 1914-1918".
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, 1926

Sergeant Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy

Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy was born 3 November 1884, in St. Stephen, New Brunswick to Mary Margaret Shaughnessy and John Shaughnessy. He was a stenographer before enlisting in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in Montreal on 4 August 1915.

He enlisted with the 73rd Canadian Infantry Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada), CEF, making him one of the original members of the battalion.

13th Bn. going out to rest after Hill 70
13th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada)
going out to rest after Hill 70, led by their Pipers and goat.
August, 1917. Source: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library
and Archives Canada/; Restrictions on use: Nil; Copyright: Expired;
MIKAN no. 3406011

On 8 September 1915, Shaughnessy received a promotion to Sergeant, and following training in eastern Canada departed Halifax with the 73rd Battalion on 31 March 1916, arriving at Bramshott in England 10 April 1916.

After more training in England, the 73rd Battalion arrived in France, at Le Havre, on 2 August 1916. Sergeant Shaughnessy participated in the closing battles of the Somme and the preparations for the attack on Vimy. The 73rd Battalion participated in the attack on Vimy Ridge attacking on the far left of the Canadian Corps front near Hill 145.

Because the 73rd Battalion was disbanded, Sergeant Shaughnessy transferred to the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Royal Highlanders of Canada), 3rd Brigade, 1st Division CEF on 8 May 1917. The 13th Battalion took Sergeant Shaughnessy on strength 9 May 1917 but the battalion attached him to Canadian Corps Headquarters for three months.

A signet ring discovered with Sergeant
Shaughnessy’s remains. Shaughnessy’s
initials, “H.W.S.” are inscribed on the
face of the ring. Source: DHH
Sergeant Shaughnessy identification disc
Sergeant Shaughnessy’s identification
disc found with his remains. Although
difficult to read, parts of his surname
and service number can be identified. His
first and middle initials, rank, and religion
are fully legible. Source: DHH

On 11 August 1917, Sergeant Shaughnessy returned to the 13th Battalion four days before the assault on Hill 70. The 13th Battalion fought in the assault on Hill 70 between 15 and 25 August 1917. The attack was in two stages with the capture of two objective lines. The 13th Battalion secured its part of the first objective called the “Blue Line” soon after the start of the attack. The second objective, called the “Green Line” was secured later that same day. Sergeant Shaughnessy most likely lost his life in taking the Blue Line because his remains were discovered near the location of this objective.

Following the war, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission engraved his name on the Vimy Memorial with the names of other soldiers who had no known grave. He was also commemorated on a memorial in his hometown of St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

During an ordnance clearing process in June 2016, his remains were discovered near where the Blue Line had been. .

Sergeant Shaughnessy's uniform Button
Buttons found with Sergeant Shaughnessy’s
remains. The brass buttons at the bottom of the
image have the word “Canada” inscribed
at the top and an image of the Imperial Crown
underneath. A maple leaf is emblazoned in the
centre of the button, surrounded by the motto
of the Order of the Garter: “Honi soit
qui mal y pense,” which is French for “
Shame on him who thinks this evil.” Source: DHH
Sergeant Shaughnessy Shoulder Title
A shoulder title for the 73rd Infantry Battalion
(Royal Highlanders of Canada) found with
Sergeant Shaughnessy’s remains. Shaughnessy
originally enlisted with the 73rd Battalion before
transferring to the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion
(Royal Highlanders of Canada). Source: DHH

Through historical, anthropological and archaeological analysis, with the assistance of the Canadian Forces Forensic Odontology Response Team, and the Canadian Museum of History, the Casualty Identification Review Board was able to confirm the identity of the remains as Sergeant Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy in December 2016.

Sergeant Shaughnessy was buried on 24 August 2017 in the Loos British Cemetery in Loos-en-Gohelle, France by members of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada from Montreal, Quebec. Attending the burial was Sgt Shaughnessy’s great-nephew and his wife, as well as representatives of the Government of Canada, the local French government and the Canadian Armed Forces.

For further information on Sergeant Shaughnessy, you can view his Attestation Paper on the Library and Archives Canada website.

A letter written by Sergeant
Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy
found amongst his sister’s
belongings. Letter used with
permission from Sgt
Shaughnessy’s family.
Sergeant Shaughnessy Portrait
Sergeant Harold Wilfred
Shaughnessy. Image used
with permission from
Sergeant Shaughnessy’s

A newspaper announcement
confirming Sergeant
Shaughnessy’s death.