The partial skeletal remains of Sergeant John Albert Collis, a Canadian soldier of the Second World War, were reunited today in an interment ceremony held at the Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery in France.
On May 22, 2019, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces announced the identification of Sergeant Collis’ partial skeletal remains, discovered near the village of Verrières, in the commune of Saint-Martin-de-Fontenay, France.
“The successful identification of Sergeant John Albert Collis, followed by today’s ceremony, provided us an opportunity to pay tribute to this Canadian soldier. It is our duty to shed light upon his sacrifice and the difficult conditions our troops faced on the battlefields during the Second World War,” says Lieutenant-General Charles Lamarre, Commander Military Personnel Command
It is not possible to confirm the reasons why Sergeant Collis’ remains were not retrieved fully from the battlefield. However, the harsh and inhuman conditions that confronted our soldiers during the Second World War were certainly a contributing factor.
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 bravery and sacrifice demonstrated by Canadian service members over the years, such as Sergeant John Albert Collis, have helped ensure the peace and freedom we enjoy in our country today. It is important that we recognize and remember the more than 90,000 Canadians who served in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, and the over one million Canadians who served in the Second World War – as well as all our brave women and men who continue to serve our country in uniform today” says, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
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.
“Today, we honoured Sergeant John Albert Collis for his service to Canada. Sergeant Collis’ family members, Canadian officials, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces who attended the ceremony paid him honour and extended their unending gratitude for his sacrifice to protect our freedom,” says the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.