Tag Archives: beaumont hamel

Memorial Day at The Rooms.

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

July 1, 1916

Meet descendants of the men and women who served their country 100 years ago.

Memorial Day at The Rooms.
Date: Saturday, July 1st, 2017
Time: 12:00pm – 5:00pm

 

NA 3106 Opening of the Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont Hamel, France

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.

Memorial Day at The Rooms.
Date: Saturday, July 1st, 2017
Time: 12:00pm – 5:00pm

Cost:  Free Admission

Spend some time in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery to meet descendants of the men and women who served their country 100 years ago. Hear their stories and share your own. Come speak to Ean Parsons, whose grandmother Margaret Taylor served in the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Or chat with Cheryl Stacey whose grandfather Sergeant Anthony James Stacey was a runner during the battle at Beaumont-Hamel and witnessed it all. Hear many more heart-warming and heart-breaking stories like theirs.

At 1pm, come sing along in our Instant Choir brought to us by Growing Their Voices: Festival 500. Julia Halfyard and Peter Halley will teach us a song from The Great War and we will perform ‘live’ for facebook.

At 3pm, head to our theatre for a free screening of When the Boys Came Home – a documentary retracing the footsteps of the Blue Puttees from the streets of St. John’s to Gallipoli, France, Belgium and home again. When the Boys Came Home reveals the workaday and internal battles that the Royal Newfoundland Regiment’s Blue Puttees waged after the First World War.

With free admission for the day, we hope many will join us in Memorial Day commemorations with a visit to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery.

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

Lest we Forget!

 

 

Sacred Newfoundland Ground in France

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

June 7, 1925

Photo Credit: NA 3106; Opening of the Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont Hamel, France

Of the five memorials established in France and Belgium in memory of major actions fought by the  Newfoundland Regiment, the largest is the thirty hectare site at Beaumont-Hamel, nine kilometres north of the town of Albert. This site commemorates all Newfoundlanders who fought in the Great War, particularly those who have no known grave. The site was officially opened by Field Marshal Earl Haig on June 7, 1925.

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 for  this and the other memorials is due to (Reverend) Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Nangle, a Roman Catholic priest from St. John’s who as Director of Graves Registration and Enquiry and Newfoundland’s representative on the Imperial War Graves Commission, negotiated with some 250 French landowners for the purchase of the site. He (Father Nangle) 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.

The landscape architect, who designed the sites and supervised their construction, was Mr. R.H.K. Cochius, a native of Holland living in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The caribous were the work of the English sculptor, Basil Gotto. He also executed the statue of the “Fighting Newfoundlander,” which Sir Edward Bowring gifted to the people of St. John’s.

Recommended Reading:  Soldier Priest: In the Killing Fields of Europe Padre Thomas Nangle Chaplain to the Newfoundland Regiment WWI by Gary Browne and Darrin McGrath.

Recommended Archival Collection: What do we have in the ‘Rooms Archives’ on this subject? Type  Beaumont  Hamel  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

Recommended Exhibit: Beaumont Hamel and The Trail the Caribou. The First World War had a profound impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. It involved thousands of our people in world-changing events overseas and dramatically altered life at home. Our “Great War” happened in the trenches and on the ocean, in the legislature and in the shops, by firesides and bedsides. This exhibition shares the thoughts, hopes, fears, and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who experienced those tumultuous years – through their treasured mementoes, their writings and their memories.

 

 

“I was talking to all the boys belonging home …”

Archival Moment

August 10, 1915

Photo Credit: F 25-20: The Rooms Provincial Archives, Young Newfoundland Soldiers.

Photo Credit: F 25-20: The Rooms Provincial Archives, Young Newfoundland Soldiers.

The spirit of patriotism ran high throughout Newfoundland and Labrador in the early days of the First World War, families were proud that their sons signed up for the war effort and were only too happy to share any news that they heard from their boys overseas.

The Newfoundland newspapers of the day, especially the Evening Telegram, were aware of the keen interest that neighbours and friends had in the young men that departed our shores for Europe and would arrange with the families permission to publish the letters that they were receiving in the newspaper.

On August 10, 1915 Walter and Mary Crosbie of Bay Robert’s were pleased to find that the Evening Telegram had published a letter that they had received from their son, George (Graham) Crosbie, Regimental Number 1447.  She wanted everyone to know that her boy had signed up for the war effort and that he was at Stob’s Camp in Scotland where he was training to be a soldier.

He wrote to his mother:

 

Stobb’s Camp

July 11, 1915

Dear Mother:

Just a few lines to let you know that I am well and in good health. I had a lovely time across, I was not a bit sea sick. I had a grand time in Gibraltar. I was talking to Peter Mansfield he told me to remember him to you.

I was talking to all the boys belonging home we landed at Liverpool the boys are as fat as bears, you would not know any of them now.

I think this is all I have to say now as we are not allowed to give any particulars.

You can send me some cigarettes and tobacco as the cigarettes and tobacco is hardly fit to smoke her. Give my love to all the friends especially Aunt Judy tell her I wish I could get some of her beer now.

I think this is all now, you must excuse this letter for I am writing it on the grass.

From your loving son,

Graham

Young Graham was so determined to sign up that he convinced recruiters that he was old enough. They wrote on his attestation papers or official record “his apparent age is 19.” The reality was that he was only 16 years old. He departed St. John’s, Newfoundland on the troopship the Calgarian, June 15, 1915.

One year after he wrote this letter George Graham Crosbie, age 17; died from wounds that he sustained at Beaumont Hamel, France on July 1, 1916.

His friend Peter Francis Mansfield, Regimental Number 37 from Jersey Side – Placentia survived the war.

George Graham Crosbie is buried in St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen; Seine-Maritime, France. His grieving parents established a gravesite at the Anglican cemetery in Coley’s Point where he could be remembered at home.

Recommended Exhibit at The Rooms:  Beaumont – Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou. Level 2:   The First World War had a profound impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. It involved thousands of our people in world-changing events overseas and dramatically altered life at home. Our “Great War” happened in the trenches and on the ocean, in the legislature and in the shops, by firesides and bedsides. This exhibition shares the thoughts, hopes, fears, and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who experienced those tumultuous years – through their treasured mementoes, their writings and their memories. – See more at: https://www.therooms.ca/exhibits/always/beaumont-hamel-and-the-trail-of-the-caribou#sthash.MOcZ7rZp.dpuf

Recommended Archival Collection:   At the Rooms Provincial Archives there is available 6683 individual service files, many have been digitized and are available at:  https://www.therooms.ca/thegreatwar/in-depth/military-service-files/database This searchable database for military service records includes the attestation papers: name, service number, community and district of origin, next of kin and relationship, religion, occupation, year of enlistment, fatality, and POW status (if applicable). Take some time to read the stories of these young men.

Recommended Reading: Browne, Gary. Forget-Me-Not: Fallen Boy Soldiers, St. John’s: DRC Publishing, 2011. 145p.

 

A son remembers his father, a memorial for Beaumont Hamel

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

February 20, 1922

TACAGoodbyeDaddy2On February 20, 1922 six year old Harvey White of Durrells Arm (Twillingate) wrote to Lieut. Col Thomas Nangle enclosing a small donation for the construction of the war memorial at Beaumont Hamel, France.

Lieut. Col Thomas Nangle had purchased from the farmers of France, on behalf of the Government of Newfoundland, the fields that we now know as Beaumont Hamel – the fields where many young men of Newfoundland had died during WWI. Nangle and the government of Newfoundland were determined to establish a War Memorial on the site.  A campaign was started that encouraged all Newfoundlanders to support the building of the memorial in any way they could.

Six year old Harvey White wrote:  

Dear Sir:

I ham only a lettel  Boy not quit seven yars old 

I  do go to school Every Day and I ham in no. one Book 

an I keep hed of the class Every Day

and I had one Dollar gave me four keeping hed of the Class so I ham sending  it  to you four Bhaumont hamel memorial 

that is the spot ware my Fathere was killed July the First 1916.

I  ham in closing one Dollar

Yours very truly

 Harvey White, 

Twillingate, Durrell Arm

 Sir if you got eny Fishear Books to spare ps send me some to look at some times I am very fond of books.

“A WEDDING RING BY OCTOBER.” 

Harvey never did meet his father, Frederick (Fred) White, age 22, Regimental number 1481.

In a letter from Ayr, Scotland where Fred was stationed before being sent to fight in France, to the mother of the child (Mary Young)  he asked Mary if she would consider calling the child (that she was pregnant with) Roland with the promise of a “wedding ring by October.”  She did grant his wish – Roland Kitchner Young  was born on August 10, 1915. Everyone called him Harvey.

The young soldier and father never did see October – he never saw his son – he died at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916.

Little Harvey White’s  (he took his father’s surname) determination to support a memorial at Beaumont Hamel was typical of many who gave their last penny to insure that those sons of Newfoundland who had died during the war would have a memorial.  A field of honour in the battlefields of France where they died.

The Memorial site at Beaumont Hamel was officially opened on June 7, 1925  three years after little Harry White gave his one dollar donation.

Explanation of term:   “no. one book”:  Before grades like grade one – grade two and grade three. etc.  Schools were structured by book – book one – book two – book three. Book one was equivalent to grade one.

Explanation of term:  “Fishear Books”: (Fisher Books)  are a series of   children’s books  written by  American author  Dorothy Canfield Fisher.

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

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, 2016.

Recommended Book: Father Thomas Nangle : Soldier-priest in the Killing Fields of Europe,  Darrin Michael McGrath, Gary Browne. DRC Publishing, St. John’s: 2006

 

“I should like to know if I could send him … a package of food”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

  July 1:  Prisoners of War in Germany, Regulations.  

Newfoundland Prisoner of War in Germany regulations concerning parcels.  April 1918, Daily News.

Newfoundland Prisoner of War in Germany regulations concerning parcels. April 1918, Daily News.

George Edward Pike

Rank: Lance Corporal

Service: 898

Community: Grand Falls

Age: 33

Date of Death: July 1, 1916

Regiment: NewfoundlandRegiment

Cemetery: Y Ravine Cemetery, Beaumont Hamel

Parents: Nathaniel and Emma Pike of Grand Falls, Born at Harbour Grace.

The “July Drive”  on July 1, 1916 annihilated the Newfoundland Regiment. When the roll call was taken, only 68 responded. Final battle figures revealed 233 men from the Regiment dead, 386 wounded, and ninety-one reported missing (and later assumed dead).

In the trenches at Beaumont Hamel, George Pike of Grand Falls stood shoulder to shoulder with a number of other men from Grand Falls and Botwood.

When news of the July Drive reached Newfoundland, many families refused to believe that their sons had died.  The family of George Pike prayed that he was a Prisoner of War (POW). His father Nathaniel wrote to the Department of the Militia in the Colonial Building in St. John’s explaining “if  (George) is a prisoner in Germany, I should like to know if I could send him … a package of food…”

The Department of the Militia responded that he should not send any food packages:

 Until it is known that your son is a prisoner of war or elsewhere, it would be strongly inadvisable to send any parcels to him. Every effort is being made to ascertain whether if any of the missiing are prisoners of war and  and lists on which your sons names figures, have been sent throughout Germany. 

It was not until November that the War office confirmed that George Pike had died with all of the other Newfoundlanders on July 1, 1916.

Recommended Reading: Browne, Gary. Forget-Me-Not: Fallen Boy Soldiers,St. John’s: DRC Publishing, 1911. 145p.

Recommended Song:  Oh, Oh It’s a Lovely War by Courtland and Jefferies  http://www.ww1photos.com/OhWhatALovelyWar.html

Recommended Archival Collection:    At the Rooms Provincial Archives there are available 6683 individual service files, 2300 have been digitized and are available at: http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part1_entering_the_great_war.asp

This searchable database for military service records  includes the attestation papers: name, service number, community and district of origin, next of kin and relationship, religion, occupation, year of enlistment, fatality, and POW status (if applicable).  Take some time to read the stories of these young men.

“Little hope of recovering the body”

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

JULY 1 – MEMORIAL DAY

Letter Home from the trenches

Herbert Wills

Rank: Corporal

Service: 2185

Community: Grand Falls

Age: 18

Occupation: Papermaker

Date of Death: December 8, 1916

Regiment: NewfoundlandRegiment

Cemetery: Beaumont Hamel (Newfoundland) Memorial

Parents: Frederick William and Mary Wills of 8,Exploits Lane,Grand Falls.

The one comfort that families desperately wanted upon hearing about the death of their son was to know, that their son, had been buried in a marked grave with dignity.

Fred Wills wrote a number of letters to the Minister of the Militia at the Colonial Building, St.  John’s pleading to know where his son (Herbert Wills) was buried in France.  Many bodies were never recovered.  The battlefields of France became their grave yard.

The Minister of the Militia called on Reverend Colonel Thomas Nangle the R.C. Chaplin to the Newfoundland Regiment in France to make inquires about his place of burial. But Nangle could find no information:

“I am writing herewith copy of said letter  and although  Father Nangle gives but little hope of recovering the body. I trust that his next endeavours will be successful, and that we will have the pleasure of forwarding you good news.”

It was letters like the one that was written by Fred Wills that moved the government ofNewfoundland to establish a Memorial at Beaumont Hamel where the sons of Newfoundland would be remembered. A place of peace and dignity.

Recommended Reading: Browne, Gary. Forget-Me-Not: Fallen Boy Soldiers, St. John’s: DRC Publishing, 1911. 145p.

Recommended Archival Collection:    At the Rooms Provincial Archives there is available 6683 individual service files, 2300 have been digitized and are available at: http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part1_entering_the_great_war.asp

This searchable database for military service records  includes the attestation papers: name, service number, community and district of origin, next of kin and relationship, religion, occupation, year of enlistment, fatality, and POW status (if applicable).  Take some time to read the stories of these young men.

The McGrath’s of Branch

On 17 April of 1917, twenty one year old George McGrath of Gull Cove, Branch, St. Mary’s Bay left Branch for St. John’s. He was determined to sign up for the war effort to fight for “country and king.”

Just one month following George’s departure from Branch his nineteen year old brother Joseph told his father Patrick and his mother Elizabeth that it was also his intention to join the war effort. Joseph left Branch and met with recruiters in St. John’s signing his attestation papers on 11 May, 1917.

In August 1917 Joseph McGrath #3760 with the other First Newfoundland Regiment volunteers marched from their training camp near Quidi Vidi Lake to the SS Florizel, the troop ship, anchored in St. John’s Harbour. They were beginning the first leg of a journey to the fighting fields of Europe. He joined a battalion in Rouen, France on January 15, 1918.

Five months later Patrick and Elizabeth McGrath – were approached by the parish priest clutching a telegram – it read “Regret to inform you that the Record Office, London, officially reports NO 3760, Private Joseph McGrath wounded on April 13 and missing in action.”

Patrick and Elizabeth McGrath for consolation turned to family and friends in Branch. They lived in hope – in letters to the war office they pleaded for “any shred of news.” There was also confusion – their son George who was fighting in Europe had heard rumors that Joseph was in Wandsworth, a large hospital about 5 miles outside of London. Wandsworth Hospital was where many members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment were treated for injuries.

On 13 November 1918 word spread quickly in Branch that a second telegram had been delivered – via the Newfoundland Postal Telegraph – the telegram was addressed to “The Parish Priest or School Teacher.” The telegram read: “London reports today that Private Joseph McGrath previously reported wounded and missing in action is presumed dead. Please inform next of kin Patrick McGrath, Gull Cove, Branch.”

The blinds in all the homes of Branch were drawn.

Joseph was buried at BEAUMONT-HAMEL – Somme, France. He had just turned twenty years old.

Lost Tradition: Upon hearing the news of the death of someone in most Newfoundland communities the curtains and blinds were drawn. Houses on the funeral route had their doors closed and their curtains drawn

Recommended Archival Collection:Over 6000 men enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment during WWI. Each soldier had his own story. Each story is compelling. To read some of these stories go to: http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part3_database.asp click on soldiers at the top centre. Find a soldier from your home community or with your family name. Read his life story.

Recommended Song: Great Big Sea – Recruiting Sergeant

Recommended Book: Browne, Gary. Forget-Me-Not: Fallen Boy Soldiers: Royal Newfoundland Regiment World War One, St. John’s, DRC Publishing, 2010.