Paying respects in Buchans
Community, groups come together to remember Memorial Day
BUCHANS, NL-The Cenotaph was the focal point in Buchans for close to a hundred men, women and children as they came together to observe Memorial Day on July 1.
David Whalen, emcee for the morning service welcomed everyone.
“Today marks the 150 anniversary of Canada,” he said. “This anniversary will be celebrated later on today… However, in Newfoundland and Labrador, today has an additional and more solemn meaning. It is also known as Memorial Day and marks the Anniversary of the fighting at Beaumont Hamel during the First World War.”
“The military history of Newfoundland and Labrador during World War I began on August 4, 1914 when Britain entered the First World War, declaring war on Germany,” said Whalen, and he asked everyone to reflect on that during the opening prayer.
“During the First World War, Newfoundland was a largely rural Dominion of the British Empire, with a population of 240,000 and not yet part of Canada,” noted Whalen by way of the history. “The Newfoundland Regiment was organized by a citizens committee. Later in the War they would have earned the prefix Royal and become the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Newfoundland had its own flag, its own government and had its own anthem called The Ode to Newfoundland. The Ode was sung at important occasions, and today there is no more important occasion than to honour the memory of the Newfoundlanders who fought at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916.”
“On this day in 1916, 801 members of the Newfoundland Regiment charged from their trenches to attack German positions in France,” Whalen continued. “The bravery of
Newfoundlanders was undeniable, chances for success practically non-existent. It’s assault only failed because dead men can advance no further. Only 68 soldiers answered the role call the next day, the dead numbers 245, 387 men wounded, 91 were reported missing. We are here today to commemorate the sacrifice that these brave soldiers and soldiers from other wars made. To honour these soldiers we will lay wreaths in their memory.”
The first wreath was the Royal Canadian Legion wreath, laid by Comrade Merrill Reid and his daughter Sheila Cooper in memory of absent comrades. Merrill right now is the last living veteran in Buchans.
Mayor Derm Corbett recognized Reid at the ceremony.
“I’d like to give a special greeting to those who are visiting the community,” he said. “And the most special guest of all – Merrill (Reid),” he added. “Merrill is here today – a very special day for him. He has got his four daughters here with him today and I’m sure that they are just as thankful and proud for the
service that their father has given, as is every single resident of this community.”
Corbett continued, “(Memorial Day) is a very unique event in Newfoundland, unique in all of Canada, in that every year at this time before we can celebrate we have to remember and we have to remind ourselves that the 150 years of freedom that we have seen has been won
as a result of a great price paid.
“And historically those who have paid that price have tended to be the young. Those with a future unwritten, those with dreams unlived. We recognize them today all past and present members of the Canadian Armed Forces, especially the young men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Let there be no doubt that the service and sacrifice of those who have served and who presently serve our country is the price we pay for 150 years of freedom.”
Comrade Merrill Reid, the last remaining veteran in Buchans attended the Memorial Day Service in Buchans with four of his daughters – Sheila Cooper, Judy Jackman, Bonnie Chaffey and Gail Wahl. Reid served aboard the HMCS Cayuga during the Korean War.
Following the Memorial Day Service in Buchans, members of the Girl Guides of Canada and their leaders and a member of the Junior Canadian Rangers and a son of one of the leaders posed proudly for a photo with the wreaths laid in honour of fallen...
Bob LeDrew laid a wreath during the Memorial Day Service in Buchans in memory of Llewellyn White, Bill White, Bob LeDrew and Frank Hancock.