In just 30 minutes the Newfoundland Regiment was wiped out

Discussion in 'Regiment Histories' started by liverpool annie, May 30, 2009.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    In the early morning of July 1, 1916, the Newfoundland Regiment went ‘over the top´ in the battle of the Somme. Just 30 minutes later the battle was over, the Regiment had been virtually wiped out and with it a generation of young Newfoundland men.

    That night only 68 members answered the roll call; 710 had been killed, wounded or were missing.

    Each year as the sun rises July 1, Canada prepares to celebrate its birthday while this province prepares to remember its ultimate sacrifice.

    Newfoundland and Labrador´s Lieutenant Governor Ed Roberts described July 1 as "an important anniversary in our history."

    More importantly he described it as the first event that defined Newfoundland and Labrador as a country and a people.

    Mr. Roberts recounted the events of that morning to members of the Clarenville Rotary Club.

    "It was one of the great cataclysmic struggles of the First World War. The British Army suffered 60,000 casualties that morning. The front line was 16 miles long, which is about two casualties for every yard of line.

    "No unit who fought that morning paid a heavier price than the officers and the men who wore the caribou badge on their uniforms. Their courage and their devotion to duty won for those men the title of better than the best."

    King George V later granted the Regiment the addition of ‘Royal´ to its name for the contributions made on the battlefield.

    Mr. Roberts insisted "we still remember Beaumont Hamel."

    The battle of the Somme was not the turning point the Allies had hoped it would be. In fact the ‘Big Push´ was a catastrophic failure.

    But the Battle of Beaumont Hamel was a turning point in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador.

    Mr. Roberts remarked "there were only about 20,000 people here at the turn of 1799-1800. We lived scattered around in 1,000-1,500 communities.

    "Until the railway was built at the 19th century everybody travelled by foot or by boat. Whether you lived in Pushthrough on the South Coast, Bonavista or St. Anthony you were equally accessible to anywhere in the world.

    "The result was we never did anything as a people and a country. Beaumont Hamel is the symbol of the regiment but it was only one of a half dozen engagements in which the regiment fought and it happened to be the most tragic."

    Mr. Roberts noted scores of British regiments also lost a high percentage in the Battle of the Somme.

    "But the regiment was something we did. It wasn´t the British doing it. The governor of the day, Sir Walter Davidson, happened to be the one who called the meeting.

    "The citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador formed the patriotic association and they recruited the volunteers and they did some training here."

    Mr. Davidson was in touch with London and related the Newfoundlanders were forming a regiment.

    Mr. Roberts emphasized "we did it, we paid them and we made a huge contribution in terms of people.

    "I don´t say it with any great joy but it was the first thing we did as a country; we paid a terrible price but there is great pride in it."

    He called the formation of the Regiment as the coming of age of Newfoundland and Labrador as a country.

    "It was the first time that we as a people, as an organized society, stood together in one common cause.

    "Beaumont Hamel was the symbol of that achievement."

    However, most people outside Newfoundland and Labrador don´t know about it.

    That changed with the 90 anniversary of the Battle.

    The Royal Newfoundland Regiment is returning to Beaumont Hamel July 1, the first time since that fateful day.

    Mr. Roberts said "it will be the first time in 90 years the regiment has stood at Beaumont Hamel as a unit. The battle has become an iconic moment in our history."

    He will be join the Regiment in France as its Honorary Colonel. Also attending will be Premier Danny Williams, representatives of the federal government and the Regiment´s Colonel-in-Chief, her Royal Highness Princess Anne.

    Mr. Roberts was hopeful this event would help educate the rest of the country about the sacrifice made by Newfoundland and Labrador almost 100 years ago.

    "We are not doing it to get press coverage. We are doing it to mark the event and to let it be known we are carrying on the tradition. We still remember and honour those men and still take pride in what they did.

    "I think for the first time a significant number of people will realize Canada Day is more than Canada Day here in Newfoundland and Labrador."

    The Clarenville Packet
  2. Adrian Roberts

    Adrian Roberts Active Member

    The site of the fighting at Beaumont Hamel was later purchased by the Newfoundland Government and is now a Memorial Park. Volunteers will show visitors around. The caribou memorial is very prominent; the names of the Newfoundlanders who died throughout the war are carved underneath (including those lost on HMS Viknor, as noted on the thread on that incident).

    I took these photos in 2004.

    Attached Files:

  3. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Thank you for the pictures Adrian !

    I have a very dear Newfie friend who's Granddad was there ..... and was one of those that answered the roll call .... unfortunately he was never the same after and spent many years in the hospital with shell shock ... and a very bad case of "guilt syndrome"

    How awful it must have been for the ones who survived .... I just can't imagine ..... ! :(
  4. Cobber

    Cobber New Member

    Such bravery, yet such loss, so many Btns,Rgts Bgds etc in all armie's were made up from men from one area and when that unit got hit hard some towns etc lost large groups of their young men.
    Even in WW2, some nations continued with these type of unit set ups.

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