July 1, 1916
July 1st is a time for celebration for the people of Canada, in Newfoundland and Labrador, the day has a more somber meaning.
Memorial Day commemorates the participation of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont-Hamel, France.
On July 1, 1916, 801 members of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment fought in that battle and only 68 answered the roll call the next morning.
“We here in Newfoundland have felt the effects of the war… The dreadful reality of war has come to too many families throughout the land. And there are very few districts in the Island which are not mourning… sons lost on the field of battle. The war is an all absorbing topic, it is never absent from our thoughts. It is like some dreadful nightmare that we cannot shake off. Our prayers and desires are for a speedy end of the war, for an early peace, but for a peace at the same time, which will render impossible another such world calamity as that which we are suffering now.” (Source: Edward Patrick Roche, 1918 – 107‑2‑6)
Shortly after the Great War, the Government of Newfoundland purchased the ground over which the 1st Newfoundland Regiment made its heroic advance on July 1. Much of the credit is due to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Nangle. As Director of Graves Registration and Enquiry and Newfoundland’s representative on the Imperial War Graves Commission, he negotiated with some 250 French landowners for the purchase of the site. He had a leading part in planning and supervising the erection, at each of the five Newfoundland Memorials sites in Europe, of a statue of the noble caribou, the emblem of the Regiment, standing facing the former foe with head thrown high in defiance.
Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type Newfoundland Regiment in the search bar here: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives
Commemoration of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel: On the 100th anniversary of the battle at Beaumont-Hamel, The Rooms will open this new permanent exhibition. Journey from trench to home front, from recruitment and training through service overseas as you experience stories of the Great War and its lasting impact on the people and the identity of Newfoundland and Labrador. A full day of commemorative activities is planned for July 1, 2016 to honour those from Newfoundland and Labrador who served in the First World War.
Due to the level of interest and anticipated large numbers in attendance for the tribute event, The Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery will not open to the public until Saturday, July 2. The Rooms is pleased to offer FREE admission to this exhibition on July 2 and 3.
Lest we Forget!