Telling the story of war in song: the men of the Goulds

Archival Moment

July 1, 1916

The Songs of World War One

The Songs of World War One

Deeply rooted in the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador is the tradition of telling stories in song. During the First World War whole communities rallied around the young men from their towns that signed up to fight for King and Country, singing songs that extolled the virtues of the young men. Typically the songs followed established tunes, well known in the communities with new lyrics added that resonated with the people of the place.

During the First World War, if you attended a party in the Goulds (on the outskirts of St. John’s) it would be likely that you would hear sung “The Boys from the Goulds” sung to the tune of the old Irish song “Wearing of the Green.”

The Boys from the Goulds

Oh, people dear, did you hear

The news that’s near and far?

For our old dear boys here from the


Are going to the war!

They are a crowd of stirring lads,

The truth to you I’ll tell;

They will shortly leave for Scotland

Where they will be trained there well.


They’re the Boys from Newfoundland

The Brave Boys from Newfoundland

They will fight the Kaiser’s Army

They’re the Boys from Newfoundland

There is Weston William and Peter Finn,

James Howlett and Thos Clarke,

And William Frizell and Henry

They’re sure to do their part;

There is Perry Howlett and Willie Ryan

John Heffernan and Joe White.

Then they go to fight the Germans

They mean to show their might.




There’s James Walsh and Lawrence Murphy

Poor John Barton once so brave;

The latter two I mention

They have filled a soldier’s grave.


The men that are referred to in the song are:

Weston Williams, Regimental #: 3312. Age of Enlistment: 18.

Peter Finn, Regimental #: 3230. Age of Enlistment: 22.

James Joseph Howlett, Regimental #: 3313. Age of Enlistment: 19.

Thomas Clark, Regimental #: 3311 from Goulds, Age of Enlistment: 18

William Frizell, Regimental #: 3279. Age of Enlistment: 21

Pierre Howett, Regimental #: 3352. Age of Enlistment: 18

William Ryan, Regimental #:133. Age of Enlistment: 24

Michael Heffernan, Regimental #: 4316. Age of Enlistment: 26

Joseph White: Regimental #: 1241. Age of Enlistment: 20

James Walsh: Regimental #: 2341. Age of Enlistment: 22

Lawrence Murphy: Regimental #: 196. Age of Enlistment: 20

John Barton: Regimental # 1485. Age of Enlistment: 28

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type  Newfoundland Regiment   in the search bar here:

Recommended Exhibit:

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.

Listen to the tune: ‘The Wearing of the Greene’ and sing the lyrics of the “The Boys from the Goulds” :

First World War Letters

Red-Crossnurse-writes-a-letter-for-an-injured-patient“First World War Letters”  is a documentary that CBC just launched using letters that are found in the Rooms Provincial Archives.

The Rooms holds thousands of pieces of correspondence from the First World War, written by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. They come from the records of the men and women who signed up to serve King and Country at home, in the trenches, on the sea and in the air.

Take some time to watch and listen to their stories. These are the voices of our families. Click on the link below:

Watch the video then scroll down and  LISTEN to the whole documentary.




The cod trap inventor


June 5, 1834 

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division: F 51-10, Hauling a cod trap / Robert Edwards Holloway [1901: Holloway family fonds

On June 5, 1834 William Whiteley  best known in Newfoundland as the inventor of the cod trap was born.

Whiteley first thought of the idea in 1865 when he had occasion to hold a catch of fish in the water with a seine-net. During the winter the family was employed in making the large net required for the trap, and the following summer it was used with great success.

In 1911, just over 40 years after its invention, government inspectors recorded the use of 6,530 cod traps in Labrador. By that time too, the trap was being widely used around the coast of Newfoundland. The cod trap was so effective that Captain Whitely’s original design continued in use virtually without change for a full century.

The device did improve productivity overall and it changed the character of the cod fishery by allowing fishermen to spend more time ashore in the processing and curing and thus reduced the role of women in these activities.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type  cod   in the search bar here:

Recommended Reading:  Dictionary of Canadian Biography:

Recommended Website:  The History of the Northern Cod Fishery


“When the able and the young go away to work…”


 May 23, 1869

The Rooms Provincial Archives Division, VA 14-146 / G. Anderson

On  (May 23, 1869) Edward Morris of St. John’s wrote in his diary  about all of the activity at the dockside in St. John’s . He observed “about 500 men” getting ready to leave Newfoundland  in search for work.  He wrote in his diary:

“Yesterday the “Merlin” Steamer left Shea’s Wharf for Nova Scotia with upwards of 500 men to work on the inter colonial railway. The saddest evidence of the depressed state of this colony (Newfoundland) that has as yet been presented.  When the able and the young go away to work upon the roads in the other provinces in preference to remaining to prosecute the fisheries it speaks little for the inducements of the fisherman’s occupation.”

 The jobs that the 500 Newfoundlanders were seeking by taking the Steamer ‘Merlin  from St. John’s to Nova Scotia were jobs on the inter colonial railway, under construction,  linking the Maritime colonies and Canada. Completion of the railway was made a condition of Confederation in 1867.

The out migration, that Edward Morris witnessed, by his fellow Newfoundlanders is a constant theme in Newfoundland history.  The people of Newfoundlandand moved to other countries for a wide range of reasons throughout the 1800’s, emigration occurred on the largest scale during the last two decades of the century when the cod fishery fell into severe decline and caused widespread economic hardship.

While some people left their homes permanently, others worked in foreign countries on a seasonal or temporary basis before returning home. Most emigrants moved to Canada or the United States. The vast majority to “the Boston States.”

In more recent years Newfoundland and Labrador has witnessed (1996 and 2001) about 47,100 people pulling up stakes and leaving the province. The Conference Board of Canada’s most recent long-term forecast predicts the province’s population will fall from about 527,000 now to 482,000 by 2035.

Despite baby bonus incentives and other government efforts since 2008, the population is expected to shrink more here over the next two decades than any other part of Canada. An aging demographic will be compounded by out-migration of workers — especially if offshore oil production wanes.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type emigration in the search bar here:

Recommended Reading: Newfoundland: Journey Into a Lost Nation by Michael Crummey and Greg Locke. McClelland & Stewart. Chronicles the passage of a time when cod were still plentiful and the fishery shaped the lives of most of the island’s inhabitants, to the present, when an economy, propelled by oil and mineral development, is recasting the island’s identity in a new mould.

Recommended Website: Statistics Canada –



Partridge, jostling each other on the barrens

Archival Moment

May 1903

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. E 53-10; Woman with roasting pan of partridges.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. E 53-10; Woman with roasting pan of partridges.

In their enthusiasm to lure hunters to the Cape Shore in the 1880’s the people of Branch, St. Mary’s Bay, boasted that there was no better place for fishing, trouting and birding than on the Cape Shore. In fact they let it be known to the celebrated travel writer Captain Robert William Kennedy, R.N. that the partridges were so plentiful that they were “jostling each other on the barrens.”

An avid hunter Kennedy in 1880 travelled to Branch, St. Mary’s Bay, where he enjoyed the hospitality of the townspeople and all the partridge hunting that he wanted. Five years following his experience (1885) he wrote in his book Sport, Travel, and Adventure in Newfoundland and the West Indies that it was true ‘patterridges’ (as the Branch people pronounced the name) could be seen to “be jostling each other on the barrens.”

With such grand reports of good hunting in the area it was inevitable that other ‘birders’ should be attracted to the area. It proved to be too much!! By 1900 the partridge population was near extinction.

In May 1903 the people of Branch and Trepassey were petitioning the government to protect the partridge. The local people had “for the last year or two been witnessing their entire crop of birds, swept away prematurely … by the wanton destruction of so many immature birds… “

Sir Robert Thorburn, the former Prime Minister of Newfoundland and a member of the Fisheries Board stood firmly with the people of Branch and their petitions to the government of the day. He took to writing the local press (The Evening Herald) in May 1903 he observed:

“that in comparatively few days at opening of last season shooting, (that a certain city so called sportsman), stated he killed enough birds on Trepassey and Placentia grounds to pay his expenses and that he sold 250 (two hundred and fifty) birds to one of our city grocers.”

Thorburn went on to write:

“Assuming this statement to be true, and that it is not a solitary instance or exception to the rule, does it not emphasize the necessity of preventing if possible a repetition of this wanton destruction of so many immature birds?”

The former Prime Minister, the people of Branch and the people of Trepassey argued that the partridge should remain “undisturbed until about the first of October.“ By tradition the ‘partridge season’ did not open up until October but over the years the ‘birders’ were arriving earlier and earlier.

They argued allowing the birds to mature:

“would have afforded a fair share of sport to the legitimate sportsman, be he a city man, or one of the manor born. ”  Thorburn continued : “Put the shooting back to the first of October and allow the use of firearms on no pretext whatsoever   … and the game will be preserved …. “

It appears that the petitions of the people of Branch and Trepassey were heeded the Consolidated Statutes of Newfoundland were revised to read “ No person shall hunt, kill, take, sell, barter, purchase … any ptarmigan or willow grouse (commonly called partridge).”

 Those of “the manor born” the people of Branch and Trepassey were quite satisfied! It was their petitions in the early 1900’s that saved the partridge from extinction.

The partridge (Lagopus sp) or ptarmigan is now the provincial game bird of Newfoundland and Labrador Two partridge species, Willow Ptarmigan and the Rock Ptarmigan, are found throughout the province.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’  on this subject?  Type hunting  in the search bar here:

Recommended Reading: Sport, Travel, and Adventure in Newfoundland and the West Indies by Captain Robert William Kennedy, R.N. William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburg, Scotland, 1885.

Recommended Reading: Department of Environment and Conservation, Newfoundland and Labrador. Small Game Regulations:




A German Spy (or Artist) in Newfoundland?

Archival Moment

May 22, 1915

“Capture, transform and annihilate that sterile land of Newfoundland”

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 49-93; Rockwell Kent Cottage at Landfall, Brigus

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 49-93; Rockwell Kent Cottage at Landfall, Brigus

The celebrated American artist Rockwell Kent made his first visit to Newfoundland in 1910 visiting the Burin Peninsula with the hope of finding a place to establish an art school. In 1914, Kent returned to Newfoundland settling with his wife and children in the historic town of Brigus.

Kent was a big personality, in a small town, making it inevitable that the residents would be interested in their new neighbor. They were not amused with what they were witnessing. With anti German sentiment rising as World War I approached, Kent who had studied as a youth in Germany cavorted about the town singing German tunes and extolling the virtues of German culture.

There was also the matter of a very large order of eight tons of coal that he had ordered and purchased for his winter’s supply. To pour salt into the wound of rumor no locals were admitted to his studio that remained locked with a sign that read “CHART ROOM — WIRELESS STATION — BOMB SHOP.” The last straw was that he painted a German eagle underneath the sign.

The locals concluded that the coal was for German submarines that were lurking in the waters off Newfoundland and his studio was definitely a German spy station passing on naval intelligence to his German friends!

He had to go!!  The government of the day quietly investigated sending police constables to Brigus to interview him. Kent was not happy with the investigation. He wrote to Governor Davidson at Government House in St. John’s stating:

“if an investigation had been conducted by men of probity and understanding, as I from the beginning have demanded, instead of by half illiterate constables, themselves of the mob, it is impossible that I would now be leaving this country”

There were few who had sympathy for him. In accordance with the decree of the government he was compelled to depart Newfoundland on the steamer “Florizel” in 1915.

Not happy with the order to leave Newfoundland he took several parting shots at the people of Brigus and the people of Newfoundland generally. One was in a letter; the other was in a painting.

In a letter to the journal The New Republic on 22 May 1915 one of the most influential liberal magazines in the United States he wrote that he hoped some German would “capture, transform and annihilate that sterile land” of Newfoundland.

The painting that best reflects his frustration with Newfoundland is House of Dread. The painting depicts a drab house with a woman falling from a window and a man below hunched against the wall. Kent said of the painting “It is ourselves in Newfoundland, our hidden but prevailing misery revealed.”

One would think that this would have been the last of this troublesome painter but in 1967 Joseph Robert Smallwood, the Premier of Newfoundland and an admirer of Kent’s work decided to try and make amends. He wrote to him:

“I certainly would not blame you (Rockwell Kent) if you felt nothing but revulsion at the thought of Newfoundland and yet from all I have ever read of yours, and heard about you from mutual friends, I would truly be surprised if you had not taken it all with good humour … How can Newfoundland show her regard for you? …Would you come back here? Would you be this government’s guest on a visit back to Newfoundland, including Brigus? … Please forgive us for past injuries, and please be magnanimous enough to be our guest some time at your convenience …”

In July 1968 Kent did return to Newfoundland as a guest of the Newfoundland Premier. During his visit he was the toast of the town with the Premier being profuse in his apologies for the treatment that he had been given in 1915 and hosting a grand luncheon with several hundred guests. Kent seemed to be pleased with the reconciliation. In appreciation in 1968 he published a book, After Long Years that included a number of drawings from his time in Brigus. He dedicated the book to his new friend Joseph R. Smallwood.

The house that Kent made his home in Brigus was in in the area of Brigus called The Battery, The house, known today as the Kent Cottage at Landfall. The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery Division and Canada Council for the Arts, supports a series of summer Artist-in-Residence programs at the house. Since 2005, The Rooms and Landfall Trust have partnered to annually co-sponsor a summer Kent Cottage resident artist. In 2008, the Trust started an annual writer’s residence program at the Cottage.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’  on Rockwell Kent?  Type his name in the search bar here:

Recommended Archival Collection: The Rooms Provincial Archives, GN 1/10/0 Box 2. Letter’s of Rockwell Kent to Sir Walter Davidson, 1915.

Recommended Web Site: Landfall Trust of Brigus, Newfoundland and Labrador





“Sell the boots for the keep of the soldier’s graves in France”

Archival Moment

May 14, 1918

In the trenches ‘Seal skinned boots’ offered the best possible protection against trench foot.

In the trenches ‘Seal skinned boots’ offered the best possible protection against trench foot.

On May 14, 1918, Mr. Frederick Harris of Glovertown, Bonavista Bay received in the post a package that read:

“one package of effects, which belonged to your son, the late #2607 Private Eugene Harris of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.”

Twenty (20) year old Eugene had died in action in the trenches of France a few months earlier.

The package contained “one identity disc and one cigarette case.”

The package was also supposed to include a pair of seal skinned boots that the father had sent to his son but the father upon hearing that his son had died wrote to the war office and suggested:

“I would like you to sell the skin boots and give the money toward the keep of the soldier’s graves in France, the socks and mits I would like to be sent to my other son No. 3365 Private Clarence Harris in France. I don’t suppose he will need the boots as I sent him a pair when I sent the other dear boy the boots … “

When he was writing the letter Frederick Harris was not aware that his other son Clarence had also died. News had not yet reached the family.

Two of his sons lay dead in the trenches of France.

The Harris family like thousands of other families in Newfoundland upon hearing of the death of their sons were determined that if their child was to be buried in foreign soil that the grave be a respectable plot and well maintained. It was the prayer of this grieving father that the sale of the seal skinned boots would help in some small way to offer this dignity.

Five years following the death of his two sons Frederick Harris writing to the war office asked for a photo of the graves where his sons were buried. With photo in hand he wrote:

I received the photos of the grave of my boy Eugene Harris. Thanks very much.”

The only remembrance that the families had of their “soldier boys” was a photo of the grave that was hung in an honored place in the household and the few contents of the package of effects that was sent to them.

The men of the Newfoundland Regiment that fought in the trenches of France in the Great War suffered prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions that often lead to ‘trench foot.’ It was not unusual for young soldiers like Eugene Harris to write home and order ‘seal skinned boots’ that offered the best possible protection against the wet and cold.

The sale of Private Eugene Harris’s pair of seal skinned boots at the request of his father was one of the many acts of generosity shown by Newfoundlanders that would eventually see the erection of memorials in France and communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.

Lest we forget!

Archival Exhibit: The Trail of the Caribou in Trench Maps: Level 3, Inside Archives Reference Room. The Rooms Provincial Archives collection of trench warfare maps provide researchers with an opportunity to learn more about our long and rich military history and the important role Newfoundland troops played during the First World War.

Recommended Website: Find the Regimental Records of the men of the Newfoundland Regiment here. This is a work in progress not all records are on line.  Search here:




“Emigration is continuing to go on still to a fearful extent.”


May 14, 1863

Emigrants Leave Ireland by Henry Doyle.

Emigrants Leave Ireland by Henry Doyle.

On  May 14, 1863 John Murphy, from the Copper Works, Brass and Bell Foundry  in Dublin wrote to Bishop John Thomas Mullock, the R.C. Bishop of Newfoundland to acknowledge receipt of payment for bells crafted for the Roman Catholic Cathedral in St. John’s (now Basilica).

John Murphy was a Coppersmith who established his business at 109 James’s Street, Dublin, in 1837. Murphy was one of the best at his craft.  His bells were awarded prizes at the Dublin and London Exhibitions and First Prize in 1900 at the Paris Exhibition.  Many of these bells found their way to Newfoundland.

Ordinarily a receipt payment would not garner much attention but with this receipt Murphy included a note to the Newfoundland Bishop that inferred  that the economy of Ireland  was such that the Irish were having to leave their home land for other parts of the world. Murphy wrote:

 “Sorry to tell you that trade is very quiet in Dublin and all over Ireland. At present the clergy are not disposed to get many bells as the people are not in good spirits from the manner particularly that the government is hurting the poor farmers by not giving them some security in their land. Emigration is continuing to go on still to a fearful extent.”

The 1850’s and 60’s were difficult economic times in Ireland and many of the Irish artisans in order to sustain a living had to sell their work to the emerging church in the new world or emigrate.

Almost 153 years to the day hard times have once again visited upon Ireland. Emigration numbers have accelerated sharply since the start of the downturn in the Irish economy in 2008, when an estimated 31,300 left the country.

Encouraging emigrants to return home to Ireland is a central part of the Irish Government’s first diaspora policy, published in March, 2015. The hope expressed at the launch, was that by 2016 the number of Irish returning would outnumber those leaving, after seven years of high emigration.

The figures for returning Irish have been falling as the numbers applying for permanent residency and citizenship abroad in such places as Canada have risen. In the 12 months to April 2014 just 11,600 Irish returned home, down from 15,700 the previous year and almost half the figure from 2008.

Canada  has been actively trying to lure the young Irish. In 2013 Canada  increased  the length of work visas for young Irish and doubled the quota of those who may arrive through the International Experience Canada (IEC) program.

Some of  these young  Irish  were  like their ancestors  were making their way to the shores of  Newfoundland and Labrador, but like Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador  over the next few years may be looking at emigration as well.

Archival Collection: Type Irish in the key word search bar:

Exhibit at The Rooms:  Come and explore Talamh an Éisc: The Fishing Ground on Level 4.  This exhibition introduces you to the Irish who have been here since the late 1600s while exploring the communities they built and celebrating the contributions they made to life here in Newfoundland.

Recommended to watch:  ‘The Forgotten Irish’ is a community of Irish people living over two thousand miles from Ireland on the beautiful Cape Shore of Newfoundland.  We welcome all of you new Irish!!


Australian Nurse writes a grieving Newfoundland Mother

Archival Moment

April 25, 1915

Australian Recruitment Poster, 1917

Australian Recruitment Poster, 1917

ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day is Australia and New Zealand’s most important national day of commemoration. The day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces on 25 April, 1915 in Gallipoli, Turkey.

Fighting with the ANZAC forces was the Newfoundland Regiment serving as part of the 29th Division of the British Army fighting in Gallipoli.

Six months after the ANZAC forces had landed 1,076 Newfoundlanders came ashore along the shores of the Dardanelles Strait (Turkey) on September 20, 1915. The Newfoundlanders spent the first months digging trenches and keeping long night watches, spending time on the front line learning trench warfare techniques from the ANZAC forces.

Australian Nurse writes a grieving Newfoundland mother.

Australian Nurse writes a grieving Newfoundland mother.

During the almost four months the Newfoundland Regiment fought at Gallipoli, approximately 30 men died in action and 10 more died of disease. One of the young men who died was Joachim Murphy, Regimental # 696, he was 19 years old, the son of Joseph Murphy of Mundy Pond Road, St. John’s.   A young Australian nurse held him as he died and wanting to bring comfort to his mother wrote her this letter.


Australian Base Post Office

Alexandria, Egypt

December 6th 1915

 Dear Mrs. Murphy,

 I am an Australian Nurse on the Hospital Ship on which your son passed away when we were crossing from the Dardanelles to Malta.

 I have not much to tell you but thought it might comfort you in your sorrow to have a few lines from someone who was with him in his last hour. He was a very good boy and though so badly wounded was very brave and courageous, as I know he must have been when fighting.

 His injuries were such that his mental condition was not very clear so that he could not talk much about his home and friends but in his half delirium I often heard him say “Mother” as if he was thinking of his home. He suffered very little pain and passed peacefully away.

 He was seen by the priest before he died and had the Last Rites of his church. I am a Protestant myself and did not quite know what to do about a Crucifix he was wearing but thought it best to leave it to him when he went to his last resting place.

 These two letters I am enclosing were in the front pocket of his coat and were evidently treasured by him. I feel sure you would like to have them.

Trusting, that God will comfort you in your great loss and sorrow.

 I remain yours very sincerely,

 Jessie Reeves

 P.S.: The only address I have is St. John’s, Newfoundland so this may never reach you but am sending it; with the hope that it may do so. I think, St. John’s may not be a very big place so that it may get there.

Note: Jessie Reeves was a nurse with The Queen Alexandrea’s Imperial Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR) She was originally from 5 Fenwick Street, Kew, Melbourne, Victoria. During the First World War (1914- 1918) she was at the Stationary Hospital in Ismalia,Egypt. After the war she did not marry, she died in Box Hill, Victoria in 1967.

Note: Joachim Murphy, Regimental # 696 was 19 years old was the son of Joseph Murphy of Mundy Pond Road, St. John’s. He died from shrapnel wounds that he sustained on a 4 November 1915. He was buried at sea on 7 November 1915 having died on the Hospital Ship.

Recommended Archival Collection: The Rooms Provincial Archives VA 36 This collection consists of photographs related to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War. The collection consists of two photograph albums compiled in 1915-1916 in recognition of the services of Newfoundland Regiment soldiers during the Gallipoli campaign.

Recommended Activity: On April 25th visit the War Memorial in your town and remember the men of Newfoundland and Labrador who stood with ‘the diggers’ at Gallipoli, Turkey.

Recommended Reading: When the Great Red Dawn Is Shining by Christopher J.A.Morry; Breakwater Books Ltd. St. John’s, NL. On their march towards the Somme, and Beaumont Hamel, the young men of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment raised their voices to sing “When the Great Red Dawn is Shining,” a song about returning home to the people they love. Howard Morry was one of the young men who managed to make it back. And now, one hundred years after the events that changed his life, we hear Morry’s voice, in these pages, rising from the silence to recount his days with the famed Regiment.

Recommended Web site:



Patrick’s Cove man “… represents the Dead who rest in France.”

Archival Moment

April 13, 1921

The-Call-To-Duty-Join-The-Army-For-Home-And-CountryWhen the United States entered the Great War of 1914-1918 it was only to be expected that sons of Newfoundland living in the United States would be amongst the sailors and soldiers who would join the American ranks.

Newfoundlanders living in the United States joined the Americans in the hundreds. Some died a hero’s death. The government of the United States had decided (if a request was made by parents or next of kin) to remove from foreign soil the bodies of those killed in war and bring them home for burial. Thousands were transferred, amongst those bodies was one destined for Newfoundland.

The dead soldier was Private Anthony McGrath, a native of Patrick’s Cove, Cape Shore, Placentia Bay, the son of George McGrath. Anthony had been working in New York when the United States declared war on Germany. Shortly afterwards he enlisted in the 106th Infantry Battalion of New York. After training he embarked with his unit as a part of the American Expeditionary Force to France, and in short order was in the front line trenches.

On September 27th, 1918, in the Argonne district, Anthony McGrath sealed his patriotism with his blood, when he was killed in action. The Meuse-Argonne offensive, in the Argonne forest (Sept 26–Nov 11), was their biggest operation and victory, in which Sergeant Alvin York became a national hero (played by Gary Cooper in a 1941 movie).

In the spring of 1921 the remains of Anthony McGrath were removed from France, brought to the United States, and then forwarded to Newfoundland.

In St. John’s, the newly formed Great War Veterans Association (G.W.V.A.) and Newfoundland Militia Department were consulted and arrangements made for a suitable military escort to meet the body on arrival of coastal steamship Kyle in the city.

Upon being notified the G.W.V.A. took charge of all arrangements and issued an appeal to all veterans to assemble at the dock pier, on arrival of S.S. Kyle to do honor to the remains of their deceased comrade. Permission was granted to all sailors and soldiers to wear uniforms and it was requested that all who could do so to wear them, as also for all American sailors or soldiers in St. John’s and vicinity to attend the funeral.

Commenting on the arrangements, the St. John’s newspaper the “Daily News” reported:

“This is an unique occasion in that it is the first body of a Newfoundland soldier who fell in France to be brought back for interment in his homeland …”

Another quotation from the same paper states:

“…. a Newfoundland soldier is being carried from the battlefields in France to find a resting place in his own country, and preparations are being made to pay him due respect in this instance, for he, after all, must represent the Dead who rest in France.”

The funeral procession paraded through the several communities on the Cape Shore, flags were flying at half-mast everywhere. All who could do so joined the funeral en- route to the soldier’s home, where, on April 13th, (1921) he was laid in his final resting place in the little cemetery on the hill overlooking Patrick’s Cove.

The final chapter was written in November, 1942, when representatives of the American Legion went from Argentia to Private McGrath’s grave at Patrick’s Cove and posthumously made him a member of the American Legion.

Anthony was the son of George McGRATH, age 65. He left to mourn his brother Bartholomew McGRATH, age 35; John J. McGRATH, age 25; George McGRATH, age 20; and sister Lucy F. McGRATH age 23.

Recommended Archival Collection: Distinguished Service: the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War, this 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.

Recommended Exhibit: At the Rooms: Pleasantville: From Recreation to Military Installation. Level 2 Atrium.

Recommended Reading: Author: Collins, E.J. Repatriated: Veteran Magazine, July 1943, Vol. 14(1), pp. 93-95.