JULY 1 – MEMORIAL DAY
Community: Grand Falls
Date of Death: December 8, 1916
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.