Trying to stay cool in the muggy heat of France may have resulted in a Canadian soldier joining the enemy — and remaining there for the past 69 years.
The likely answer to a mystery dating back to the Second World War was exhumed in France last week, when forensic scientists pried open an old fibreglass box to reveal the bones inside — bones that were long assumed to be those of an unidentified German soldier.
Standing just metres away from the enigmatic remains, officially listed as a German killed on Aug. 13, 1944, was Medicine Hat lawyer Lawrence R. Gordon — and it’s his firm belief the nameless warrior is in fact his namesake uncle, Lawrence S. Gordon.
“It was a bit of an eerie feeling — the boxes aren’t very big, and each one holds an individual soldier. All of the bones are in there,” said Gordon.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind that we’ve got the right person — I’m satisfied that we’ve got Uncle Lawrence.”
DNA testing, now underway at the University of Wisconsin, will provide the final proof in about three month’s time — meanwhile, compelling physical evidence suggests the remains previously known as soldier ‘X-3’ are in fact Private First Class Gordon, a Saskatchewan farm kid who joined the U.S. Army while working in Wyoming.
PFC Gordon vanished on Aug. 13, 1944, after his armoured car — part of a U.S. Reconnaissance Company scouting in Normandy, France — came under attack, and its occupants were all killed.
But when it came to recovering the bodies, there was no Private Gordon, just a corpse without dog-tags, wearing a few items of German military clothing and equipment — hence, the assumption it was a dead German.
Gordon was gone, but the Canadian’s wallet, bloodstained and burned, somehow made it back to Saskatchewan with a letter explaining he was missing in action — how it arrived home remains a mystery, because there was no name or address in the billfold, just a photo of the family farm.