Tag Archives: Great \war

On the brutal front lines of war

Fallen Soldier’s Death Penny

Sacrifice: Young Canadians and Newfoundlanders on the brutal front lines of war

From the fields of Flanders to the shores of Gallipoli, more than 640,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the First World War. Here, from diaries, military records and letters sent home, Tu Thanh Ha retraces the wartime journeys of some of these men and women

By TU THANH HA,
Globe and Mail
NOVEMBER 9, 2018

JAMES MOORE
When the war began, Newfoundland was still 35 years from joining Canada. A British dominion, it raised its own regiment. In St. John’s, James Moore, a 22-year-old longshoreman with a heart tattooed on his right arm, was among those who would be known as “The First Five Hundred”
Original documents:  See the personnel file for James Moore at The Rooms

Recommended Archival Collection: Search individual soldier’s files here: https://www.therooms.ca/thegreatwar/in-depth/military-service-files/introduction

 

GEORGE GOUDIE
A paper-mill timekeeper in the company town of Grand Falls, George Goudie was 18 when he headed to St. John’s to enlist in the Newfoundland Regiment in March, 1916. By the following spring, just a few kilometres south of the fighting at Vimy Ridge, Corporal Goudie’s unit attacked the German lines in the Battle of Arras – and were met by a brutal counterattack. The regiment had gone to battle with 521 men; it suffered 487 casualties. Cpl. Goudie was reported missing.
Original documents: See the personnel file for James Moore at The Rooms

Recommended Archival Collection: Search individual soldier’s files here:https://www.therooms.ca/thegreatwar/in-depth/military-service-files/introduction

 

Read the full article here:  https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-portraits-of-sacrifice-young-canadians-on-the-brutal-front-lines-of/

Talk of War begins in Newfoundland

Archival Moment

July 30, 1914

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. E 39-4; Three sailors from HMS Calypso

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives. E 39-4; Three sailors from HMS Calypso

One of the first indications that Newfoundland would become part of what was shaping up to become a “big European War” later to be called the ‘First World War’ came by way of notice in the Evening Telegram on July 30, 1914. The St. John’s newspaper reported:

“We understand that the commanding officers of the H.M.S. Calypso have been instructed by the Admiralty to have all the Reservists in readiness and within calling distance, if their services are required. The total strength of the Reserves is about 600.”

This information came as a surprise to many in Newfoundland, most naval reservist were fishermen and were more preoccupied with their fishing enterprise than they were about the situation in Europe. But those following world and current events had heightened concerns about a European war. Calling the reservists to action just in case of war was a  natural sequence.

The Editor of the Telegram went on to write:

“Without a doubt the odds are largely in favor of a Big European War, in which practically all the Powers will be involved.”

The Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) was formed in 1902 through the combined efforts of Newfoundland and Great Britain. In September of that year the H.M.S. Calypso was commissioned for service in Newfoundland as naval training vessel. The reservists on board the H.M.S. Calypo were trained in gunnery instruction, fire station exercises, physical training, and using rifles and dumbbells. The Calypso was moored in St. John’s Harbour.

On August 2, 1914, the talk of war became a reality; the reservists of Royal Naval Reserve were called for active duty. Posters were placed throughout St. John’s notifying Newfoundland reservists to report to the Calypso as quickly as possible. Another vessel, the S.S. Kyle was dispatched to pick up reservists in various outport locations on the way south from the Labrador fishery.Notification was made to outport Magistrates that reservists are to report immediately to St. John’s.

Commander A. MacDermott expected problems with the call-up, as it was the height of the fishing season, but his fears were unfounded. MacDermott reported that once the call was issued every man-jack of them (responded) and with no trouble at all, though many of them had to walk fifty or sixty miles to the nearest steamer or railway station to catch their ride to St. John’s.

Mr. William Clance of St. John’s is reported in The Telegram to be the first reservist to report for duty on board the Calypso, and is awarded a prize of £2.

On August 4, 1914, Great Britain and her Dominions, including Newfoundland and Canada, were officially at war as a result of Germany declaring war on Belgium. Great Britain had giving Austria-Hungary an ultimatum to stand down from hostilities. When Austria-Hungary did comply a state of war was declared at 11.00pm

Most Newfoundlanders give credit to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment (The First 500 or Blue Putees) as being the first Newfoundlanders to go on active wartime service, they were not. It was the 106 seamen of the Newfoundland Division of the Newfoundland Reserve who went aboard the H.M.S Niobe in St. John’s September 6, 1914 that were the first that went aboard, setting out on a war footing.

Recommended Archival Collection: At the Rooms Provincial Archives read the correspondence dated 1914 concerning, Recruiting, Royal Naval Reserve GN 2.14.302 ; and Mobilization; state of the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve GN 2.14.311 from the Office of the Colonial Secretary fonds.

Recommended Exhibit:  Beaumont – Hamel and The Trail of the Caribou: The Rooms, 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.fcJ6w2Vi.dpuf

Recommended Reading: Codfish, Cruisers and Courage: The Newfoundland Division of the Royal Naval Reserve, 1900 – 1922. By W. David Parsons.

 

Newfoundland takes Prisoners of War

Archival Moment

August 22, 1914

Prison13495337191864875045prison3-hiIn the hours following the declaration of the First World War in August 1914, the government of Newfoundland began to declare ‘certain individuals’ as ‘Prisoners of War.’

In St. John’s, the local papers reported as early as August 18, 1914 “that one Carl Winicarski, an Austrian fireman  (stoker)  was held as a prisoner of war.”

On August 20, 1914 “the police (in St. John’s) arrested another German as a Prisoner of War, there are now detained on the Police Station two Germans and a Pole.”

These were all men working on foreign vessels, that happened to be tied up in St. John’s harbour, that were carrying passports of the enemy countries, the Central Powers, Germany, Austria-Hungary and The Ottoman Empire (Turkey).

It appears that the Police Station was inadequate for the purposes of holding ‘Prisoners of War.’   The St. John’s newspaper the Evening Telegram reported on August 21, 1914:

“Owing to complaints being made that the Police Station was unfit to quarter Prisoners of War (POW’s) yesterday afternoon two German’s and a Pole were removed from there to the Penitentiary, where they will be allowed a certain amount of liberty.”

Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) on Quidi Vidi Lake became the home for the prisoners of war in St. John’s. Initially, “prisoners of war” were also held in Corner Brook and Harbour Grace in the town’s Police or Court House cells.   As the numbers increased they were transferred to a facility in Donovan’s, (on the outskirts of St. John’s) and eventually to a larger facility in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

The Amherst Camp was the largest prisoner-of-war (POW) camp in Canada during World War I with a population of 853 prisoners. The most famous prisoner of war at the camp was Leon Trotsky.

The Prisoners of War in Newfoundland “were allowed a certain amount of liberty” and remembered fondly their time in Newfoundland and the people that they met while they were incarcerated.

Richard Frohner who had been arrested in Harbour Grace wrote from Amherst in 1917:

“I would rather be in Harbour Grace as here. (Amherst). Our best times we had over there (Harbour Grace) and in Donovan’s but I know that we will not get back as POW’s, we hope that this war will be over and we will be free once more…”

Recommended Archival Collection: Distinguished Service: the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War, this on line exhibition documents the lives and experiences of the province’s soldiers and aims to encourage interest in research on the Royal Newfoundland Regimen. The service records of the First 500 and others are available at the Provincial Archives at The Rooms. Many of the service records (but not all ) are on line , http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part1_entering_the_great_war.asp

Recommended Exhibit: Beaumont Hamel  and the Trail of the CaribouThe 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.

 

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

 

The response of some Irish Newfoundlanders to the Great War

April 30, 1917

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division A 58-152, For Victory, a Newfoundland infantryman in field dress standing in front of an unfurled Red Ensign containing the Great Seal of Newfoundland.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives Division A 58-152, For Victory, a Newfoundland infantryman in field dress standing in front of an unfurled Red Ensign containing the Great Seal of Newfoundland.

On April 30, 1917 Revered Daniel O’Callaghan, Parish Priest of  the  the R.C. Parish in Flatrock wrote to Archbishop Edward Patrick Roche of St. John’s complaining:

 “ For months the people in Flatrock have been subjected to a deal of scornful remarks, and to unfair and unjust treatment from so-called patriots because our men have not volunteered.” Father O’Callaghan was particularly incensed that “the Flatrock men have been refused berths to the ice-fields”

The letter is evidence that those who did not volunteer in the war effort were discriminated against.

The Irish born O’Callaghan had at the beginning of WWI discouraged the men of Flatrock from volunteering for the war effort. He is reputed to have told his parishioners that there was no pride “in standing under the British rag.”

Born in South Down, Ireland in 1875, Daniel O’Callaghan, the young Irish Priest in Pouch Cove may have been taking his lead from what his ‘clerical’ contemporaries were doing in his home country,  Ireland. Within the Roman Catholic Irish hierarchy, there was disunity and a lack of a common purpose about the war. The leading archbishops in Ireland in 1914, Archbishop Michael Logue of Armagh and Archbishop William Walsh of Dublin were not in favour of the war or were at best ambivalent and refused to support recruiting or indeed lend any support at all to recruiting. The bishop of Limerick, Bishop Edward Thomas O’ Dwyer, was openly anti-British.

The refusal of the “so called patriots” to give a berth on the ships going to the ice fields to prosecute the seal fishery would have meant economic hardship for the Flatrock men.

O’Callaghan is also  given credit for establishing the tradition of having the famous Regatta Crews from Outer Cove carry there boat to Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John’s on Regatta Day. Many saw it as a ploy to keep the crew members away from drink on the big day.

Recommended Reading: “Lives Recalled: Deceased Catholic Priests Who worked in Newfoundland 1627-2010”  by Rev.  Francis A. Coady, St. John’s, NL.

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. The  Newfoundland Regiment and the Great War:  http://www.rnr.therooms.ca/part3_database.asp 

 

 

“The soldiers paired off and waltzed around the field …”

Archival Moment

September 21, 1914

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 58-69; Payday 1st N.F.L.D. Reg. [Regiment][Pleasantville] Note the Greatcoats.

Photo Credit: The Rooms Provincial Archives: A 58-69; Payday 1st N.F.L.D. Reg. [Regiment][Pleasantville]
Note the Greatcoats.

There was quite the party at Pleasantville, St. John’s on September 20, 1914  the local papers reported  that:

“A large number of citizens visited Pleasantville where an enjoyable concert was given by the Catholic Cadet Corps (C.C.C. ) Band. The programme was an excellent one, and as the band played the “Pink Lady” waltz, several of the soldiers paired off and waltzed around the field. They wore their military great coats and as they moved to the strains of the waltz, the sight was a novel and attractive one.”

The men were no doubt proud of their new greatcoats that had just arrived from Halifax. Why not show the off! A greatcoat, also known as a watchcoat, is a large overcoat typically made of wool designed for warmth and protection against the weather. Its collar and cuffs can be turned out to protect the face and hands from cold and rain, and the short cape around the shoulders provides extra warmth.

It was also recounted that a young boy from the city wanted to entertain the soldiers. The newspapers reported:

 

“During the intervals the small boy with the mouth organ entertained a number of lads and lasses to a programme of quadrilles, which were danced in fine style on the bridge.”

 

This was one of the last concert events at Pleasantville that was scheduled before the Newfoundland Regiment departed Newfoundland to fight for King and Country, on October 4, 1914.

The St. John’s Evening Telegram reported that many of the young soldiers were very conscious of their responsibilities.

“The scene at the camp was military in every particular, and amid the joviality that prevailed, the guards slowly paced their grounds apparently unconscious of aught but duty. Patriotism was everywhere resplendent amongst those that visited the scene and the beautiful blending of duty and pleasure in the soldier’s life was manifested in a marked degree.”

One of the privileges that a soldier of the Great War was entitled to upon his return home was the “privilege of retaining his uniform including great coat”  (Department of Militia, The Sailor and Soldiers Handbook Published by the Civil Re-Establishment Committee, January, 1919).

Recommended Archival Collection: Great War service records of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment are available on line, those not on line are available at the The Rooms Provincial Archives on microfilm.  Search the Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Exhibit: 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.lv9JmCbn.dpuf

Recommended Exhibit: Pleasantville: From Recreation to Military Installation. Level 2 Atrium   Pleasantville before the First World War was the site of the St. John’s cricket grounds. With the declaration of war, Pleasantville quickly emerged as a tent city, the home of the storied “First 500”. It was here that the First Newfoundland Regiment recruits began preliminary military training during the months of September and October of 1914. This exhibition highlights some of the activities and training of the Blue Puttees up to their embarkation on the SS Florizel for overseas service.

Berry Pickers and Shooting Instructors

Archival Moment

August 27, 1914

The Rifle Range is in the Southside Hills. Stay out of the berry patches.

The Rifle Range is in the Southside Hills. Stay out of the berry patches.

With the declaration of war on August 4, 1914, the task of turning civilian volunteers in Newfoundland into something resembling a military force fell to the Musketry Committee.

On August 27, 1914 a meeting of the Musketry Committee was held at the Catholic Cadet Corps (C.C.C.) Armoury. Sergeant Instructor Joseph Moore, a former professional soldier with 21 years’ service in the British Army, outlined the plan of training the recruits.

The first of the men to sign up for the Newfoundland Regiment were coming from the established paramilitary brigade headquarters of the Church Lads’ Brigade, the Catholic Cadet Corps, the Methodist Guards, the Newfoundland Highlanders, and the Legion of Frontiersman.

Instructor Moore explained that the preliminary training would consist of shooting and the cleaning and proper care of rifles. A decision had been made that squads of 50 men under the command Instructor Moore would be given three days practice at the Southside Range after which they will continue their training at Pleasantville.

Pleasantville, at Quidi Vidi Lake, St. John’s with the declaration of war, emerged as a tent city, the home of the storied “First 500”. It was here that the First Newfoundland Regiment recruits began preliminary military training during the months of September and October of 1914.

Reports indicate that “quite a number of gentlemen had volunteered as instructors, and all arrangements for efficient training of the recruits had practically been finalized.”

This Committee were working with the Equipment Committee with regard to the procuring of rifles, but no decision had yet been reached as to which rifle would be adopted.

Those living near the Southside Rifle Range were not amused. The hills east of St. John’s  called the  South Side Hills  were known as  the best berry picking grounds  in the town. Within days notices were posted in the local newspapers and about the Southside warning residents to stay away from the rifle range.  Their traditional berry picking patches were now off limits.

Some it is reported were to chance a stray bullet from the Rifle Range in order to get their bucket of beloved blue berries!

Recommended Archival Collection: Great War  service records of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment are available on line, those not on line are available at the The Rooms Provincial Archives on microfilm.  Search the Archives: https://www.therooms.ca/collections-research/our-collections

Recommended Exhibit: 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.lv9JmCbn.dpuf