A Winnipeg soldier killed in the First World War is finally getting his recognition, more than a century after his death in combat at age 31.
At a ceremony last week, the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada rededicated the headstone marking the grave of Cpl. George Herbert Ledingham, who was buried as an unknown corporal in the Commonwealth Ward Graves Commission Canada Cemetery in Tilloy-lez-Cambrai, France.
Ledingham — born in 1887 in Scotland before moving to Winnipeg, where he enlisted — was killed Oct. 1, 1918, during a battle to take control of a major enemy transportation hub in northern France.
For decades, his grave was nameless, but through decades of research by family members, independent researchers, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Directorate of History and Heritage, his identity was confirmed in 2019.
When service members who were previously buried as unknown soldiers are identified, a review board of historians, forensic researchers and members of the armed forces formally confirms the remains, if there is sufficient evidence. Ledingham’s family — his great-nephews and nieces — was notified last year.
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“For over a century, Corporal Ledingham was officially listed as ‘missing in action,’” Maj. Linda Tomlinson-Seebach, brigade chaplain, 38 Canadian Brigade Group, said in a statement.
“His family suffered the pain and sorrow of having never had the chance to say farewell to him. Now the lost has been found right where he laid the whole time. Now Cpl. Ledingham’s burial is complete.”
Ledingham’s name is also engraved on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, which commemorates Canadian soldiers killed in France during the war with no known grave.
Chief Warrant Officer John Dawson, regimental sergeant major of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, called the rededication of the headstone the last significant step in marking Ledingham’s contributions to the war effort.
“Now we can provide Cpl. Ledingham with the recognition that he and all of his comrades deserved,” Dawson said.
“For those of us not related to this soldier, a ceremony like today’s is a great reminder of the extraordinary sacrifice of tens of thousands of brave Canadians who answered the call to serve the country, and for the cause of freedom, gave their lives.”