Tag Archives: WWI

How to name a war

Archival Moment

September 2, 1914

home1With the outbreak of war in August 1914 pundits began to coin phrases to best name this new conflict. In the very early days of the war the tendency had been to refer to it as the “European War.” As the war progressed and more nations became involved in the conflict it became known as the “Great War” and the “First World War”.

In Newfoundland, the first term given to the conflict was “The Great War” the term was first used on September 2, 1914. Copying an article from the New York Independent the St. John’s, Evening Telegram reported:

 Some wars name themselves, the Crimean War, The Civil War, the Franco – Prussian War, the Thirty Year war, the Revolutionary war, and many others.

This is the Great War

It names itself

The term “First World War” was another term that emerged shortly after the start of the war; the phrase is credited to the German philosopher Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel wrote:

“There is no doubt that the course and character of the feared “European War” will become the First World War in the full sense of the word.”

The “European War” became known as “The Great War”, and it was not until 1931, with the beginning realization that another global war might be possible, that there is any other recorded use of the term “First World War”.

During the Interwar period (1918-1939), the war was most often called the World War and the Great War in English-speaking countries.

After the onset of the Second World War in 1939, the terms World War I or the First World War became standard, with British and Canadian historians favoring the First World War, and Americans World War One.

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.

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.

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

 

A Call to Arms: Commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War

Archival Moment

August 4, 1914 – August 4, 2014

War has broken out with Germany

War has broken out with Germany

At exactly 9:25 p.m., August 4, 1914, Newfoundland Time, a telegram was received by Governor Davidson at Government House in St. John’s, advising him that Great Britain had declared war on Germany, and that Newfoundland was thus at war.

Governor Davidson immediately issued a “Call to Arms” and subsequently many Newfoundland men answered the call to serve in the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Merchant Marine, the Newfoundland Forestry Service, the Royal Flying Corps, the Canadian Army, the Volunteer Aid Detachments, and other units of the allied services.

Many Newfoundland women volunteered for service as nurses and ambulance drivers. The women of Newfoundland formed 250 branches of the Women’s Patriotic Association, a response and involvement without parallel in the British Empire.

On Monday evening, August 4, 2014, the Basilica of St. John the Baptist and St. Bonaventure’s College will host an ecumenical service of remembrance to mark the exact moment when Governor Davidson received the telegram.

The community, young and old and of all faith backgrounds are invited to gather for a unique celebration of remembrance and a re-commitment to peace in our time.

In First World War song, poetry, band music, story and prayer, travel back in time and stand in solidarity with the leaders, the youth and the families who gave of themselves so generously, and have continued to do so in the conflicts that have continued to plague our human family.

All are invited to join in this unique commemoration to mark the 100th anniversary of “The War to End All Wars.”

EVENT: Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of World War I

DATE: AUGUST 4, 2014

TIME: 8:15 – 9:30 p.m.

SITE: Basilica-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

For more information on the event contact: Gary Browne: gary.browne@nf.sympatico.ca   or the Basilica Cathedral Parish 754-2170.

Recommended Archival Collection: Distinguished Service: the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War, this online exhibition documents the lives and experiences of the province’s soldiers and aims to encourage interest in research on the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The World War I service records of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment are available at the archives on microfilm. http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part1_entering_the_great_war.asp

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.

RecruitingCOLLECTING THE GREAT WAR ENLISTING YOUR HELP: The Rooms needs your help to tell the stories of the men and women who served overseas and at home during the First World War and the impact that the war had here. The Rooms staff will be available to collect stories and document photographs and artifacts. Help us preserve stories of the First World War before they are lost. The information gathered will be used to develop a new permanent exhibition on The Great War to open in 2016. More Information: http://www.therooms.ca/firstworldwar/default.asp

More than a pair of socks

Archival Moment

July 9, 1918

More than a pair of socks, knitting for their soldier boys.

More than a pair of socks, knitting for their soldier boys.

On July 9, 1918 the local paper, The Twillingate Sun, published a letter under the caption “Thanks for the Socks”. The letter was one of hundreds that would have been printed in local Newfoundland newspapers, it was a thank you letter from a young soldier (Edward G. Noftall) “Somewhere in France” thanking a young woman (Miss Clarke of Twillingate) for a pair of socks that she knit for him.

The letter gives considerable insight into a ‘home front’ war time activity.

In the early days of the First World War, the Patriotic Association of the Women of Newfoundland (W.P.A.) was formed with a mandate “to assist in aiding the British Empire in the present crisis by providing the necessities needed by our soldiers at the front.” The necessities that were identified were knitted socks, helmet liners, scarves, mittens and waistcoats for the men overseas. In every corner of Newfoundland and Labrador women were knitting for their ‘soldier boys.’

Many of these women decided to add a personal touch to the product that they had knitted inserting into the sock or mitten a note wishing the soldier well with their name and home address. Typically the sentiment of the note was “Into this sock I weave a prayer, That God keep you in His love and care.”

In May 1918, Edward Noftall, age 19, originally from Rocky Lane, St. John’s, Regimental #83 (one of the First 500) received a pair of socks from a Miss Clarke of Twillingate. Upon receiving the socks he felt compelled to write a note of thanks. He wrote:

Dear Miss CLARKE: – Just a note thanking you for the socks which were very nice indeed and in such a place as France. I know the people in Twillingate must work hard working for the soldiers of Nfld. I don’t know if I know any of your friends out here, but I can tell you that all the boys that are here at present are feeling well. My address is 83 E.G. NOFTALL, 1st Royal Nfld. Regt. B.E.F., France.

Your friend, Ted.

Some young soldiers upon receiving their knitted socks with notes inserted while they were in the trenches in France were not content with sending a note of thanks, some resolved when they returned to Newfoundland that they would visit the young woman who had knit their socks. Several cases have been documented anecdotally of young soldier boys returning, seeking out their knitter and in some cases, they developed romantic relationships and they married. (If you are aware of such a case please let me know. I would like to document as many cases as possible.)

Edward (Ted) Noftall was never to meet his Miss Clarke in person. This young man who had marched with the First 500 from Pleasantville to The Florizel, had seen action at Gallipoli in 1915 had been hospitalized several times for injuries in the trenches died of appendicitis at the 3rd Casualty Hospital, Belgium a few short months after he wrote his letter of thanks.

Miss Clarke and the thousands of other women knit many socks and wrote many comforting notes that they inserted in the heels. It is estimated that between 1914 and 1916, the women produced 62,685 pairs of socks, 8,984 pairs of cuffs (mittens with a trigger finger), and 22,422 mufflers.

For some they were simply a pair of grey socks, for the young soldiers in the cold trenches, the socks were a connection with home, the socks reminded the soldiers that at home in Newfoundland they were loved and remembered.

 A Pair of Grey Socks

A woman is knitting most all the day

A sock that shapes from a ball of grey,

Her fingers fly, and the needles click,

Fast grows the sock so soft and thick.

“Why do you knit at such a pace,

Dear woman, with patient face?

Is it for tireless little feet,

Or covering warm for the huntsman fleet?

“Or maybe for fisherman strong and bold,

Who fights the sea when the winds blow cold.

Or perhaps for the strong brave pioneer,

Who faces new worlds with dauntless air?”

“No, no, my child, ’tis for none of those

That I patiently knit in endless rows;

’Tis for nearer and dearer” — then a broken pause,

“For those who are fighting their country’s cause.

“For those who sailed on the ocean wide,

To do their bit ’gainst a lawless tribe.

Thus, I do for my country a woman’s part,

Who give the pride of their mother’s heart.”

“But what means the white row I see right here,

Is it a sign to make the pair?”

“No, that marks the socks for the slender youth,

Who does his part for the cause of truth.

“The red is the sign for the hardy man,

At the height of his strength in life’s short span;

But young and old alike do the same,

For life or death, for honour or fame.

“Blue in the sock is the medium size,

The colour dear to the sailors’ wives,

So in the grey socks, red, white and blue

Form our colours so bright and true.

“And that is why all the livelong day,

I sit and knit in the same old way;

And into each sock I weave a prayer

That God keep our boys in His love and care.”

Recommended Reading: “A Pair of Grey Socks. Facts and Fancies. Lovingly dedicated to the boys of the Newfoundland Regiment. And to every woman who has knitted a pair of grey socks. By Tryphena Duley. Verses by Margaret Duley.”

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 Regiment. This on line exhibit focuses on the World War I service records of the Regiment, available at the ARCHIVES on microfilm. Some of the service records are on line at: http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part1_entering_the_great_war.asp

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.

Knitting Socks: Demonstration: Sock Knitting: In just two years, the women of Newfoundland and Labrador knit 62,685 pairs of socks for the troops in the First World War. Come to the Collecting the Great War: Enlisting Your Help exhibition to watch a pair of grey socks being made, using the original pattern, and try your hand at knitting. Demonstrations are ongoing every Thursday from 2 – 4pm on Level 2 at The Rooms.

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. http://www.therooms.ca/regiment/part3_database.asp

 

 

Two Friends on the Battlefield

ARCHIVAL MOMENT

November 11

National War Memorail, St. John’s, Newfoundland

Two Friends on the Battlefield

In October 1915 a young student at St. Bonaventure’s College, P.J. Kennedy, who was later to become a priest in the Archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland, observed:

“On Thursday, October 1, the Catholic members (of the First Newfoundland Regiment) went in a body to Confession and Communion.  It was an impressive sight to see this touching portrayal of Catholic faith hown forth in that hour of trial and excitement…        [Two days later] on October 3… the line of march to the Florizel [the ship that was to take them to the battlefields] was lined by thousands of spectators.

Heartbroken parents said a fond goodbye to sons whom they had looked forward to as support and comfort in old age…”

Having trained for war together they also died together. It must not be forgotten that these boys (and many were in their teens) had been   friends for life, they had grown up in the same neighborhoods, gone to the same schools, played on the same sports teams. When death knocked it was not impersonal.

An obituary for a 17‑year‑old Private Gordon A. Mullings tells of the friendship and bonds that developed between these young men. The obituary published in the Adelphian, the school journal of St. Bonaventure’s College, St. John’s reads:

“Amongst the gallant young soldiers (that served with Gordon A. Mullings) was his school chum, Jack Oliphant. The boys’ attachment ripened under the associations of barrack, camp, trench and battle, into a romantic soldierly friendship. The two young men set sail together from St. John’s.

They fought side by side in France and were wounded about the same time. On the very day that Gordon arrived in Scotland from hospital he found that Jack had already recovered from his wounds and had been picked in the draft to return to France. He immediately begged the O.C. for permission to   accompany his chum and on December 30 the two young St. Bon’s Boys found themselves once again in the war zone surrounded by the grim realities of the modern battlefield.

Just  three weeks later the golden cord which bound the two friends were  parted for on January 20, Gordon made the supreme sacrifice of his life for the cause of the Empire, but love ceases not with the  grave, Christian hope whispers of a reunion which will know nothing  of separation..”  (St. Bonaventure’s College, Adelphian,  St. John’s, NL. March 1917 page 46)

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 tohttp://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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knxR-Q2VoBE

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

 

“Forget-Me-Not” before the Poppy

Archival Moment

July 1: In Newfoundland and Labrador is Memorial Day.

Forget me Not.  The Flower of Newfoundland soldiers.

Forget me Not. The Flower of Newfoundland soldiers.

Legend has it that when God was naming flowers that a plant called out to God saying ”Forget-me-not, O Lord!” God replied, “That shall be your name.”

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the “Forget-Me-Not” was used to commemorate “our nation’s dead” those who had died in WWI or WWII. The small flowers were pinned in the same way that the poppy is used on Remembrance Day.  In Newfoundland and Labrador the tradition of wearing a ‘Forget Me Not’  is still in limited use today. Following  Confederation with Canada the tradition of wearing the ‘Forget Me Not”  was displaced by the poppy.

The “Forget-Me-Not”  are used internationally to remind people to reflect over something worthwhile that has been given.

Recommended Song: “Little Blue Forget Me Not”  written and performed by Bud Davidge; music by Sim Savory  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrfWQl_n28w

Recommended Action: On July 1 wear a ‘Forget Me Not’.

Follow related stories and traditions about Newfoundland and Labrador on Archival Moments at www.archivalmoments.ca sign up at the site or follow Archival Moments on Facebook or on Twitter @LarryDohey