While most of Canada will celebrate the anniversary of confederation this Friday, in Newfoundland July 1st is also a somber day of commemoration and remembrance. 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel. A dark day in Newfoundland and Canadian history.
At 9:15AM on the morning of July 1, 1916, 800 Newfoundlanders went over the top of their trench, nicknamed St. John’s Road. Despite hours of previous bombardment, the Germans were ready and waiting. Weighed down with 30kg packs and with no shelter, the Newfoundlanders were slaughtered. After a battle lasting no more than 30 minutes, only 68 men were able to answer roll call – the rest were missing, killed, or wounded. The battle was initially called a victory in newspapers back home, but families soon became aware of the horrible truth – hundreds of young men had been lost. British General Aylmer Hunter-Weston said of the regiment, “There were no waverers, no stragglers, not a man looked back,” he wrote. “It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further.” Despite the horrific losses, the Newfoundland Regiment was able to regroup and went on to fight in several other major battles during the First World War.
Thousands of Canadians are currently in France on a pilgrimage to honour the brave members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment killed 100 years ago and buried in the war cemeteries of The Somme. The Juno Beach Centre was pleased to welcome a number of these groups this week, including our Patron, General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier, himself a proud Newfoundlander.
Thank you for including Juno Beach as a part of this special pilgrimage. Lest we forget.
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.