The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces have identified Lieutenant John Gordon Kavanagh, a Canadian soldier of the Second World War who was buried as an unknown soldier in 1947 in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s section of the Steenderen General Cemetery in the Netherlands.
Lieutenant John Gordon Kavanagh was born on October 20, 1921, in Toronto. He joined the Non-Permanent Active Militia in September 1939, and joined The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (QOR of C) as a Private on June 13, 1940, in Toronto. By August 1944, he had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Lieutenant Kavanagh joined The QOR of C in northwest Europe in March 1945 and was killed in action on April 5, 1945, during an advance towards Pipelure, Netherlands.
The QOR of C have notified surviving next of kin of Lieutenant Kavanagh’s identification and have provided the family with ongoing support. A headstone rededication ceremony will take place at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s section of the Steenderen General Cemetery in Steenderen, Netherlands, in the spring of 2020.
“Those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms that Canadians enjoy today deserve to be remembered by all Canadians. The successful identification of Lieutenant John Gordon Kavanagh offers all of us an opportunity to remember those who served during the Second World War. To the family of Lieutenant Kavanagh, Canada will always remember the contribution you loved one made to Canadians. Lest we forget.” — The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence
The Canadian Armed Forces Casualty Identification Program was established to identify unknown Canadian service members when their remains are recovered. The program also identifies service members previously buried as unknown soldiers when there is significant historical and archival evidence to confirm the identification. In this instance, the previously unknown soldier will receive a new headstone with his name and will be officially identified and recognized by the Canadian Armed Forces.
The program fosters a sense of continuity and identity within the Canadian Armed Forces, and provides an opportunity for the family, the unit of the fallen soldier, and all Canadians to reflect upon the experiences of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.