June 7, 1925
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.