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Generation of young men lost


"The Fighting Newfoundlander", used in statue and literary form is probably the most accurate and honest way to describe the men who enlisted with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. They faced unspeakable horrors in the battles they faced, but they did it with honour and valour that would be hard pressed to match. As we gather to celebrate Canada Day tomorrow, let us not forget that July 1 marks an important date in our history from 1916 when 801 of our finest from the 1st Newfoundland Regiment headed into the theatre of war. The opening day of the Battle of the Somme and the resulting Battle of Beaumont Hamel decimated a league of outstanding Newfoundlanders in less than a half-hour in a country so far away from their loved ones and the life they knew. When the roll call was taken after the Battle only 68 soldiers were there to answer.

"The Fighting Newfoundlander", used in statue and literary form is probably the most accurate and honest way to describe the men who enlisted with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

They faced unspeakable horrors in the battles they faced, but they did it with honour and valour that would be hard pressed to match. As we gather to celebrate Canada Day tomorrow, let us not forget that July 1 marks an important date in our history from 1916 when 801 of our finest from the 1st Newfoundland Regiment headed into the theatre of war. The opening day of the Battle of the Somme and the resulting Battle of Beaumont Hamel decimated a league of outstanding Newfoundlanders in less than a half-hour in a country so far away from their loved ones and the life they knew. When the roll call was taken after the Battle only 68 soldiers were there to answer.

Imagine, over 700 young men gone just like that. It was a military operation gone drastically wrong. Historical accounts of the Battle show that the Newfoundlanders went over the top with the conviction to win, but the leadership that sent them in was more than inadequate.

They have made the ultimate sacrifice and that fact demands that we pay tribute to them. If your community doesn't have a Memorial Day service, seek out a neighbouring community that does and pay your respects to a group of soldiers that represent who we are today. When you get the chance, drop by By The Bay Museum in Lewisporte to learn even more about the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and view actual blue puttees worn by the first 500 soldiers in the regiment. Being so close to a piece of our history and thinking that those blue puttees could have been worn by a soldier at Beaumont Hamel will surely give you reason to pause. They were a proud Regiment. They were men that for some, never had the chance to have families. They are the men who could have been our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers and they deserve our ultimate respect.

- Karen Wells, editor

editor@pilotnl.ca

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