Saying prayers: not reason enough for desertion.

Archival Moment

July 24, 1882

Photo Credit:  The Rooms Provincial Archives. A 44-41; Grand Bank, headquarters for the prosecution of the Bank fishery.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. A 44-41; Grand Bank, headquarters for the prosecution of the Bank fishery.

There was a time in Newfoundland history when most fishermen worked under a contract with the merchant families, a contract that was embedded in legislation known as the “Of Masters and Servants Act.”

Many firms operating from Newfoundland ports such as Allan Goodridge and Sons from Renews on the Southern Shore required bank fishers to sign written contracts guaranteeing to remain with the employer for the duration of the voyage, “from the first of April till the last of October next.” 

Leaving employment prior to the end of the trip constituted desertion – a criminal offence punishable by a jail sentence of thirty to sixty days. John Carew and Andrew Armstrong of Witless Bay opted to desert in July 1882.

The two Witless Bay men were quickly apprehended and brought before Judge James Gervé Conroy, a stipendiary magistrate and judge of the Central District Court., St. John’s.

The defendants, Carew and  Armstrong, were shipped as share men on the ‘J.A. Smith’ a ship owned by Allan Goodridge and Sons to prosecute the bank fishery. Alan Goodridge & Son was one of the most successful firms in Newfoundland. The firm had branches throughout the colony including the home port of Renews. The Registry of Newfoundland Vessels reveals that the Goodridge’s were one of the largest vessel owners in that era, registering 197 vessels between 1834 and 1917.

Carew and Armstrong stood before the good judge on July 24, 1882  and argued that “the Captain was not gentlemanly in his conduct.”  They explained to the judge that the vessel, ‘J.A. Smith’ went into the Harbour of Renews to replenish her stock of bait where they had no choice but to dessert.

As a cause for their leaving, they told the judge that the Captain came aboard one Sunday evening and asked them why they did not go to prayers while they were in Renews.  The furious Captain explained “That they could not expect the voyage to prosper with them unless they went to their duty (prayers and holy mass) when the chance offered.

They argued that they did not go into the town of Renews for prayers because they “were ashamed to be seen on shore on account of the slanderous manner in which the Captain had talked about them to the people there.”

The defendants argued that the Captain had committed a breach of marine etiquette by lecturing to them upon a matter that was not contained in the articles of their agreement, (attending prayers).

The two had enough. They took a dory and rowed towards the shore, bidding farewell to the Captain and the remaining portion of his gallant crew.

They then started for St. John’s and whilst on their way, were overtaken by Constable Daw who proceeded in bringing them before the sanctuary of justice.

Judge Conroy having heard the story was not in the least sympathetic.  He argued that they should have made complaint, if they had any, before the magistrate in Ferryland,  (the community with a court nearest to Renews) instead of endeavoring to come to St. John’s  to escape desertion, and in taking a dory to affect their desertion they had rendered themselves liable six months imprisonment.

Judge Conroy was apparently feeling somewhat lenient; at least he thought so, punishing the two Witless Bay fishermen to thirty days for leaving their service “without good and sufficient cause.”

Recommended Archival Collection:  The Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. Johns, holds 70% of the Crew Agreements from 1863-1938, and 80% of the Agreements from 1951-1976. The crew agreements include particulars of each member of the crew, including name (signature), age, place of birth, previous ship, place and date of signing, capacity  and particulars of discharge (end of voyage, desertion, sickness, death, never joined etc). http://www.mun.ca/mha/

Recommended Reading: The Rule of the Admirals: Law, Custom, and Naval Government in Newfoundland, 1699-1832. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Recommended Reading:  The Newfoundland Bank Fishery: Government Policies and the Struggle to Improve Bank Fishing Crews’ Working, Health and Safety Conditions. Fred Winsor, B.A., MIA.  Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1996.

A tiff over fashion, what to wear to church on Sunday?

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

July 23, 1854

What will I wear to mass?

Edward Morris, the Manager of the Newfoundland Savings Bank in St. John’s, Newfoundland in his diary for July 23, 1854 wrote that he had a wee tiff with his wife  (Katherine Howley) it appears she was not happy with him, she was in fact so displeased with him that she refused to go to church with him.

Edward wrote in his dairy:

“Mrs Morris went to 8 o’clock mass at the Cathedral (now Basilica) giving as a reason for going early that she had no decent dress to appear in at a more fashionable hour.”

The 8 o’clock mass tended to be the mass that the kitchen maids, scullery cooks, chamber maids, house maids, sewing maids  and  the other servants attended.  The staff would all  get up early,  attend the mass, and be home before their employers and their families got up.

There was no compromise, Edward insisted that he was going to the regular 10 o’clock mass, he was not concerned about the latest clothing fashions.

Edward was quite pleased that he did attend this particular mass and no doubt delighted in reminding his wife  that  during the celebration he was  witness to a great deal of history.

THE CATHEDRAL BELLS

He wrote:

 Went to mass myself where the Bishop  (Mullock) consecrated two Bells part of the intended chime one the largest dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The other & smaller to St Patrick the Patron Saint of Ireland …The Bishop having consecrated the Bells ascended the pulpit and explained the ceremony.”

A PLACE FOR THE EVANGELISTS

Edward also observed that:

“Today (July 23, 1854) the figures of the four evangelists were all fixed up in their places.”   

The statues of the four evangelists, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke andSt. John are located some thirty feet above the floor  of  the Cathedral. These are of Italian workmanship. They are of marble and are slightly larger than life-size. Each evangelist is shown with his appropriate symbol: St. Matthew with a child; St. Mark with a lion; St. Luke with an ox; and St. John with an eagle.

A PLACE FOR THE NUNS

It was not only the evangelists that found their place in the Cathedral on July 23, 1854. Mr. Morris also noted:

“And the nuns (Presentation Sisters)  for the first time occupied the gallery appropriated to them behind the high altar.”

The  gallery is now  situated  behind a grilled window set in the east wall of the apse. From the small room behind this window, the Sisters of the Presentation can participate in the Parish Masses.

Recommenced Reading; Biographical Sketch on Edward Morris:  http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?BioId=39843

Recommended Archival Collection:   At the Archives of the R.C. Archdiocese: The Edward Morris Diaries:  Edward Morris was a businessman, politician, and office-holder; born in 1813 in Waterford (Republic of Ireland), son of Simon Morris. In  1852  Edward married Katherine Howley ofSt  John’s.

Recommended Virtual Exhibit: From Cornerstone to Cathedral- History of the Basilica Cathedral, St. John’s.  http://www.museevirtuel-virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/basilique-basilica/en/index.html

The ‘passing bell’ has tolled for Loretta Dohey

Obituary

Loretta Dohey

1933 – 2014

LorettaLoretta (Nash) Dohey, a woman of faith, an exceptional cook and  avid gardener left this place on July 14th surrounded by the love of her family, to be with those who have gone before her.

Her faith, which she held with a quiet dignity, told her that she would be with her son Billy who died in 2009. Our hearts are at peace knowing they are united once again.

She remembered in heart, thought and prayer, during her life, those that had predeceased her including her parents Patrick and Mary (Barry) Nash, her sisters: Sadie Squires, Agnes Careen, Nora Corcoran, Carrie White, Mary Ryan and Clara Lundrigan and her brothers Mike, Jimmy and Benny. She was with them all at their end and she looked forward to them welcoming her into the place they have prepared for her. She said “they promised a big time on her arrival.”  She leaves Delores Wade, her niece and friend to hold the memories of the family.

She leaves to mourn in sadness, but with great thanks for all that she has done, her children’s father, Clem Dohey and her children Eta (Anthony Nash), George (Patricia), Eric, Frances (Fred Mills), Pat, Larry (Ian Martin), Doreen (Dominic Traverse), Father Wayne, Jean, Sandra (Fabian Manning), Orinda (Jerry Careen), Marie (Lloyd MacKenzie), and daughter-in-law Amanda Ferguson.

Her great love and joy were her 23 grandchildren Janice, Ian, Kim, Tracey, Elizabeth, Freddie, Sandra, Carrie, Justin, Pat Jr., Ashley, Peter, Christopher, Jordan, Fabian Jr., Mark, Heather, Amy, Marcus, Kindra, Evhan, Joshua and Grayson;  and her seven great-grandchildren. She will be remembered with love and affection by all of them as a mother and grandmother of remarkable strength and grace, whose love will transcend the generations.

Funeral arrangements entrusted to Manning’s Funeral Service. Resting at Sacred Heart Church, St. Bride’s. Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday, July 17, at 2:00 p.m.

Flowers gratefully accepted or donations to the Sacred Heart Parish Cemetery Fund, St. Bride’s.

She passed in silence with a smile. We all begin a new day, holding her memory.

What is the ‘passing bell’?  Read more: http://archivalmoments.ca/2013/11/kneeling-and-prayers-in-the-streets/

July and the Weather Saint

Archival Moment

15 July 1881

July 15  Weather Watch

July 15 Weather Watch

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain’

July month in Newfoundland was the month for the ‘excursionists’.  It was the month when most established organization’s would be in the process of planning excursions ‘around the bay’ for their members. The date on the calendar that the organizers for these excursions were watching was July 15.

July 15 in Newfoundland was traditionally known as St. Swithin’s Day, (or more properly, Swithun) a day on which people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin’s Day, it will continue so for the next forty days.

The residents of St. John’s, many of English ancestry were very familiar with the Elizabethan weather-rhyme:

‘St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain

For forty days it will remain

St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair

For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.’

The excursions were holiday outings by coastal vessels to the Newfoundland outports, the most popular being Renews, Placentia and Trinity. Upon arrival in these villages the ‘townies’ would be greeted by the locals where they would be treated to a breakfast “after which the sports of the day would commence.”  Some of the ‘sports’ included horse  races, foot, hurdle and sack and wheelbarrow races, shooting matches and in the evenings dramatic entertainment and lantern shows .

Organizers for the excursions were disappointed to find on July 15, 1881 that it was a wet day.  The local St. John’s paper, The Evening Telegram reported.

“A wet St. Swithen’s Day. Oh, whatever trials are yet in store for excursionists this season.“

Organizers of the excursions were well aware that individuals would be less reluctant to reserve a spot on an excursion if inclement weather was anticipated.

Who was St. Swithin?

St. Swithin (or more properly, Swithun) was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester. He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches. A legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors with the poor where he would be trodden on and rained on. For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971.  According to legend there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.

This led to the folklore tradition that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.

How did the tradition get to Newfoundland?

Beginning in the early 17th century, immigrants from the West of England (mainly from Wessex) began to settle in Newfoundland. By the early 1800s they had founded numerous fishing villages and towns and comprised about 60 percent of the resident population. The Wessex component was the largest ethno-European group to settle Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of these immigrants (80-85%) originated in the counties of Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and Somerset, with notable additions from the adjacent counties of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Cornwall.

Recommended Website: http://www.math.mun.ca/~wessex/wordpress/

Recommended Song:  Billy Bragg,  St. Swithin’s Day:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljJl-E5bzm4

Old English words:  dost = does;  thou = you;  nae mair = no more.

The Great Fire of 1892.

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

July 8, 1892   

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: B4-49; St. John’s East in ruins folloing the Great Fire. (note the Basilica in the background)

Late in the afternoon of 8 July 1892, a small fire broke out in a St. John’s stable on Freshwater Road after a lit pipe or match fell into a bundle of hay. Although containable at first, the flames quickly spread due to dry weather conditions.  Within hours, the fire had destroyed almost all of St. John’s.

The fire burned into the night and did not end until about 5:30 the following morning.  Many people camped out in Bannerman Park or on property surrounding the Roman Catholic Cathedral (now Basilica), which was one of the few buildings the fire did not destroy.

As the sun rose on 9 July, more than two-thirds of St. John’s lay in ruins and 12,000 people were homeless; many had lost everything they owned, except the clothes they were wearing.

One of the accounts written about the fire was penned by W.J. Kent   who wrote:

“All the arteries which led from the water to the higher portions of the town were crowded with the terrorised mob and the screams and cries of the women mingled with the wailing of children, the shouts intensified by the ever-freshening masses of livid fire and the glare of the burning buildings, contributed to make a scene the like of which it is not often given to the lot of many to witness…. Few there were who closed their eyes that night.”

Four persons were burned to death.  The devastation that struck the city was recorded by one of the priests on staff at the R.C. Cathedral (the Basilica) who wrote on Sunday July 10, 1892”

 “There was no publications today in consequence of the great calamity that has happened in our city on Friday evening and night, when the best part of St. John’s east was entirely destroyed by fire which caused such a panic that everyone is excited and frightened and nearly 12, 000 persons are left homeless, over 2000 houses were burned besides stores, wharfs…”

At the Last Mass, Father Scott preached a very touching sermon about the fire and those who were its sufferers from its effects.  Four persons were burned to death, namely:

Mrs. Catherine Stevens    }lived on Meeting House Hill

Her daughter Louisa Stevens

And the servant girl – name not known

Also Miss Catherine Molloy, Bulley’s Lane, and elderly girl not married

RIP

 

The Great Fire of 1892

Rev. Moses Harvey at  St. Andrews Free Presbyterian Church on the day following the fire walked about the city, he presents a similar description of the devastation and plight of the victims of the fire.

“The next morning I took a walk around the awful scene of devastation. It was heart-rending. Nothing visible for a mile from Devon Row but chimneys and fallen and tottering walls. The thick smoke, from the smouldering ruins still filled the air… The wrecks of the fanes of religion stood out, then [sic] broken walls pointing heavenward, as if in mournful protest against the desecration that had been wrought.

And the poor inhabitants, where were they? It made the heart ache to see the groups of men, women and children, with weary, blood-shot eyes and smoke begrimed faces, standing over their scraps of furniture and clothing — some of them asleep on the ground from utter exhaustion — all with despondency depicted on their faces. They filled the park and grounds around the city. Many hundreds escaped with nothing but the clothes they wore… .”

Recommended Reading: St. John’s, City of Fire, by Paul Butler, Flanker Press,  St. John’s. 2007.   

Recommended on line account: The St. John’s Fire of July 8, 1892: The Politics of Rebuilding, 1892-1893 by  Melvin Baker (c)1984. Originally published in the Newfoundland Quarterly, vol. LXXIX, no. 4 (Winter 1984), pp. 23-30.  http://www.ucs.mun.ca/~melbaker/1892fire.htm

Recommended Archival Collection:   Take some time at the  Archives Division of  the Rooms to look at MG 596  this item consists of map showing area of city affected by the 1892 fire. A number of photos of the Great Fire of 1892 that document the extent and devastation of the fire are also held in the photograph collection of The Rooms Provincial Archives Division.

Recommended Walk: Walk St. John’s takes you back in time to explore some of St. John’s most historic structures. Select one of the round-trip walking tours which take you through the streets of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, where much of the city was destroyed by fire on at least three occasions. Experience the alluring streetscapes and heritage architecture, which stand as a testament to the resilience and perseverance of its citizens who rebuilt time and again over the ashes of its past structures. Celebrate one of the oldest cities in Canada by exploring each of these unique walking tours in a city where walking and exploring is encouraged. Read More: Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=tpled.walkstjohn4.app&hl=en

 

More than a pair of socks

Archival Moment

July 9, 1918

More than a pair of socks, knitting for their soldier boys.

More than a pair of socks, knitting for their soldier boys.

On July 9, 1918 the local paper, The Twillingate Sun, published a letter under the caption “Thanks for the Socks”. The letter was one of hundreds that would have been printed in local Newfoundland newspapers, it was a thank you letter from a young soldier (Edward G. Noftall) “Somewhere in France” thanking a young woman (Miss Clarke of Twillingate) for a pair of socks that she knit for him.

The letter gives considerable insight into a ‘home front’ war time activity.

In the early days of the First World War, the Patriotic Association of the Women of Newfoundland (W.P.A.) was formed with a mandate “to assist in aiding the British Empire in the present crisis by providing the necessities needed by our soldiers at the front.” The necessities that were identified were knitted socks, helmet liners, scarves, mittens and waistcoats for the men overseas. In every corner of Newfoundland and Labrador women were knitting for their ‘soldier boys.’

Many of these women decided to add a personal touch to the product that they had knitted inserting into the sock or mitten a note wishing the soldier well with their name and home address. Typically the sentiment of the note was “Into this sock I weave a prayer, That God keep you in His love and care.”

In May 1918, Edward Noftall, age 19, originally from Rocky Lane, St. John’s, Regimental #83 (one of the First 500) received a pair of socks from a Miss Clarke of Twillingate. Upon receiving the socks he felt compelled to write a note of thanks. He wrote:

Dear Miss CLARKE: – Just a note thanking you for the socks which were very nice indeed and in such a place as France. I know the people in Twillingate must work hard working for the soldiers of Nfld. I don’t know if I know any of your friends out here, but I can tell you that all the boys that are here at present are feeling well. My address is 83 E.G. NOFTALL, 1st Royal Nfld. Regt. B.E.F., France.

Your friend, Ted.

Some young soldiers upon receiving their knitted socks with notes inserted while they were in the trenches in France were not content with sending a note of thanks, some resolved when they returned to Newfoundland that they would visit the young woman who had knit their socks. Several cases have been documented anecdotally of young soldier boys returning, seeking out their knitter and in some cases, they developed romantic relationships and they married. (If you are aware of such a case please let me know. I would like to document as many cases as possible.)

Edward (Ted) Noftall was never to meet his Miss Clarke in person. This young man who had marched with the First 500 from Pleasantville to The Florizel, had seen action at Gallipoli in 1915 had been hospitalized several times for injuries in the trenches died of appendicitis at the 3rd Casualty Hospital, Belgium a few short months after he wrote his letter of thanks.

Miss Clarke and the thousands of other women knit many socks and wrote many comforting notes that they inserted in the heels. It is estimated that between 1914 and 1916, the women produced 62,685 pairs of socks, 8,984 pairs of cuffs (mittens with a trigger finger), and 22,422 mufflers.

For some they were simply a pair of grey socks, for the young soldiers in the cold trenches, the socks were a connection with home, the socks reminded the soldiers that at home in Newfoundland they were loved and remembered.

 A Pair of Grey Socks

A woman is knitting most all the day

A sock that shapes from a ball of grey,

Her fingers fly, and the needles click,

Fast grows the sock so soft and thick.

“Why do you knit at such a pace,

Dear woman, with patient face?

Is it for tireless little feet,

Or covering warm for the huntsman fleet?

“Or maybe for fisherman strong and bold,

Who fights the sea when the winds blow cold.

Or perhaps for the strong brave pioneer,

Who faces new worlds with dauntless air?”

“No, no, my child, ’tis for none of those

That I patiently knit in endless rows;

’Tis for nearer and dearer” — then a broken pause,

“For those who are fighting their country’s cause.

“For those who sailed on the ocean wide,

To do their bit ’gainst a lawless tribe.

Thus, I do for my country a woman’s part,

Who give the pride of their mother’s heart.”

“But what means the white row I see right here,

Is it a sign to make the pair?”

“No, that marks the socks for the slender youth,

Who does his part for the cause of truth.

“The red is the sign for the hardy man,

At the height of his strength in life’s short span;

But young and old alike do the same,

For life or death, for honour or fame.

“Blue in the sock is the medium size,

The colour dear to the sailors’ wives,

So in the grey socks, red, white and blue

Form our colours so bright and true.

“And that is why all the livelong day,

I sit and knit in the same old way;

And into each sock I weave a prayer

That God keep our boys in His love and care.”

Recommended Reading: “A Pair of Grey Socks. Facts and Fancies. Lovingly dedicated to the boys of the Newfoundland Regiment. And to every woman who has knitted a pair of grey socks. By Tryphena Duley. Verses by Margaret Duley.”

Recommended Archival Collection: Distinguished Service: the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War, this on line exhibition documents the lives and experiences of the province’s soldiers and aims to encourage interest in research on the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. This on line exhibit focuses on the World War I service records of the Regiment, available at the ARCHIVES on microfilm. Some of the service records are on line at: http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part1_entering_the_great_war.asp

Recommended Exhibit: Pleasantville: From Recreation to Military Installation. Level 2 Atrium Pleasantville before the First World War was the site of the St. John’s cricket grounds. With the declaration of war, Pleasantville quickly emerged as a tent city, the home of the storied “First 500”. It was here that the First Newfoundland Regiment recruits began preliminary military training during the months of September and October of 1914. This exhibition highlights some of the activities and training of the Blue Puttees up to their embarkation on the SS Florizel for overseas service.

Knitting Socks: Demonstration: Sock Knitting: In just two years, the women of Newfoundland and Labrador knit 62,685 pairs of socks for the troops in the First World War. Come to the Collecting the Great War: Enlisting Your Help exhibition to watch a pair of grey socks being made, using the original pattern, and try your hand at knitting. Demonstrations are ongoing every Thursday from 2 – 4pm on Level 2 at The Rooms.

“White feathers for the slackers… ”

Archival Moment

July 1916

For King and Country, I Offered.

For King and Country, I Offered.

In the early days of the First World War a new word began to slip into the everyday language of Newfoundlanders especially in our poetry and song. The word was “slackers” commonly used to describe someone who was not participating in the war effort, especially someone who avoided military service.

Corporal Vincent S. Walsh of St. Mary’s, St. Mary’s Bay, Newfoundland, Regimental # 1958 in a poem that he penned while on furlough in Weybridge, Surrey, England in 1916 was among those to use the term. He wrote: “Now I pity the poor slackers. When they are forced to go … “

Walsh’s poem was typical of the day, full of patriotic fervor, written with the intention of encouraging (some would say) shaming the young men who had not signed up, to sign up to fight for ‘King and Country.’

The pressure to sign up would have been considerable. One author went so far as to write “There are three things in this world that Tommy hates: a slacker, a German; and a trench-rat; it’s hard to tell which he hates worst.”

In Newfoundland, the determination to identify “slackers’ took the form of shaming the young men. Women  would hand out  or mail “white feathers” the symbol of cowardice, to men not in uniform. The purpose of this gesture was to shame “every young ‘slacker.’

The practice became so so common that the Editor of the St. John’s newspaper, The Evening Telegram, on  29 November 1916  pleded with the “young women and others”  to carefully consider what they were doing.

The young ladies or others who are sending through the mails, white feathers to the young men who they believe are “slackers” should be very careful that the young men in question are justly entitled to receive them , as we know of a number of cases where quite an injustice has been done,. The victims in some cases are so deformed that it is apparent to the average person that they would not be permitted an examination let alone the privilege of wearing a “rejected” badge.

In Newfoundland and other countries in order not to be “called out as a slacker”special lapel pin were  created that read “For King and Country, I Have Offered” or “I Have Volunteered”  or “Rejected”  Upon seeing the lapel pin on the young men the general public knew that this man was not a slacker but had been refused service because of some medical condition.

The enthusiasm for war was so great that even the women in Newfoundland were determined that they would do their bit for fear of being called ‘slackers’. Women in every corner of the province joined knitting and sewing circles or volunteered with various groups involved in patriotic endeavors.

Sybil Johnson of St. John’s wrote in her diary “that she could not bear to be a slacker”   so in December 1916 left St. John’s for England where she joined the Volunteer Aid Detachment (VAD’s). She was one of the many young Newfoundland women who received a few weeks of nurse’s training and were then assigned to the casualty and battlefield hospitals in England and on the continent.

The enthusiasm of the war and determination to sign up was the theme of much of our poetry and songs of the First World War such as the poem written by Vincent S. Walsh were typical of the day. He wrote:

A Soldier’s Song

Once I was a policeman

With a billy in my hand,

And little were my thoughts then

of leaving Newfoundland.

Then my King and Country called me,

So I said that I should go

And learn how to use a rifle

To fight the German foe.

Ten thousand have responded,

Their country for to save,

They are the kind of men we want

For there are none so brave.

Now I pity the poor slackers

When they are forced to go,

To cross the foaming ocean,

To fight the German foe.

Now I hope they will take warning

By what I am going to say,

Don’t put of enlisting for another day,

Go over to your J.P. and have

You name put down,

The get aboard the Portia bound

for St. John’s town.

They will be there to meet you

If you have pluck enough to go,

They will bring you up and train you

How to fight the German foe.

Recommended Archival Collection: Distinguished Service: the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War, this on line exhibition documents the lives and experiences of the province’s soldiers and aims to encourage interest in research on the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The World War I service records of the Regiment are available at the archives on microfilm. Many of the service records are available on line: http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part1_entering_the_great_war.asp

Recommended Exhibit: Pleasantville: From Recreation to Military Installation. Level 2 Atrium   Pleasantville before the First World War was the site of the St. John’s cricket grounds. With the declaration of war, Pleasantville quickly emerged as a tent city, the home of the storied “First 500”. It was here that the First Newfoundland Regiment recruits began preliminary military training during the months of September and October of 1914. This exhibition highlights some of the activities and training of the Blue Puttees up to their embarkation on the SS Florizel for overseas service.

COLLECTING THE GREAT WAR ENLISTING YOUR HELP: The Rooms needs your help to tell the stories of the men and women who served overseas and at home during the First World War and the impact that the war had here. The Rooms staff will be available to collect stories and document photographs and artifacts. Help us preserve stories of the First World War before they are lost. The information gathered will be used to develop a new permanent exhibition on The Great War to open in 2016. More Information:  http://www.therooms.ca/firstworldwar/default.asp