The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces have identified the partial skeletal remains of Sergeant John Albert Collis, a Canadian soldier of the Second World War, discovered near the village of Verrières, in the commune of Saint-Martin-de-Fontenay, France.
Sergeant Collis enlisted in September 1939, in Brampton, Ontario, with the Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment). He died on July 25, 1944, during Operation SPRING, as a member of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Canadian Active Service Force), near the village of Verrières.
Veterans Affairs Canada has notified members of the family and is providing them with ongoing support as final arrangements are made.
“The dignified laying to rest of Sergeant John Albert Collis reminds us of the tremendous price that many Canadian soldiers paid during the battles of the Second World War. The legacy of our brave members who helped win the War still resonates in the proud traditions of today’s Army. We honour Sergeant Collis for his service and will forever remember his sacrifice,” says Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, Commander, Canadian Army.
Sergeant Collis’ personnel file indicated he was first interred in a temporary grave on July 26, 1944. He was later moved to the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery.
His remains will be reunited with his grave by his regiment, in the presence of family and Government of Canada representatives, at the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in France, on June 7 at 10 a.m. (Central European Time).
This will take place during a ceremony organized by the Government of Canada to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.
“It is our duty to provide a dignified and respectful interment to fallen service members who are recovered and identified. The Canadian troops’ success on the battlefields came at a high cost during the Second World War. Sergeant Collis’ interment is an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect upon those who served during the war, and to never forget their courage. We will remember them,” said Harjit S. Sajjan, minister of national defence in a statement.
The Department of National Defence Casualty Identification Program identifies unknown Canadian service members when their remains are discovered, so that they may be buried with a name, by their unit and in the presence of their family.
The program fosters a sense of continuity and identity within the Canadian Armed Forces and provides an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect upon the experiences of those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
“The Second World War left a legacy of death and destruction. The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Sergeant John Albert Collis’ during the Battle of Normandy reminds us of the conditions experienced by our soldiers during the fighting. More than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served during the Second World War; over 45,000 gave their lives, and many more were wounded. Sergeant Collis will be honoured for his commitment and service to Canada. Lest we forget,” says Lawrence MacAulay, minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence.