The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. John H. Canty, 22, of Winsted, Connecticut, accounted for on Dec. 12, 2017, will be buried July 10 in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. On June 22, 1944, Canty was a member of the 555th Bombardment Squadron, 386th Bombardment Group, IX Bomber Command, aboard a B-26 Maurader on a nighttime bombing mission from Easton Lodge-Essex, England, against targets near Caen, France. His B-26 was shot down between the villages of Baron-sur-Odon and Gavrus, France. All eight crewmembers were killed in the incident. Because the location of the crash was in German-held territory, U.S. forces were unable to make a detailed search for the crew at the time of their loss.
Following the liberation of France, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC), U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps, searched for and disinterred the remains of U.S. service members who were killed in battle. Residents of Gavrus recalled that a two-engine airplane crashed just outside the village on June 22, 1944. An American was recovered and buried in a nearby British cemetery. In 1945, the remains were exhumed and he was identified as an airman aboard the same aircraft as Canty. However, no other remains were identified and Canty was declared non-recoverable.
In 1986, a French citizen located remains and personal effects recovered from a crash site near Gavrus. The remains were handed to the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, France, and were later identified as four individuals from the same aircraft as Canty.
In October 2014, Mr. Michael Jurd, a British researcher contacted U.S. authorities that he found remains, as well as personal effects that corresponded to Canty, near Gavrus.
In 2016, a DPAA investigation team surveyed the reported crash site and recommended it for excavation.
Between April and May 2017, a DPAA recovery team excavated the crash site between Baron-sur-Odon and Gavrus, locating possible remains and personal effects.
To identify Canty’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, which matched his family, as well as dental and anthropological analysis, which matched his records, and material evidence.
DPAA is grateful to the French Government, Mr. Michael Jurd and the American Battle Monuments Commission for their assistance in this recovery.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,906 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Canty’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Normandy American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420/1169.