A map of a transat­lantic mar­vel and the cen­te­nary of Beau­mont-hamel

Hon­our­ing a lost gen­er­a­tion years af­ter they fought and died at Beau­mont-hamel

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS -

For most Cana­di­ans, July 1 is a day to cel­e­brate the birth of their coun­try. For the peo­ple of New­found­land and Labrador, how­ever, it marks a sober­ing day in the province’s his­tory — one that con­tin­ues to be re­mem­bered a cen­tury later. On July 1, 1916, nearly the en­tire New­found­land Reg­i­ment was wiped out at Beau­mont-hamel dur­ing the first day of the Bat­tle of the Somme in north­ern France. Of the 801 sol­diers from the reg­i­ment who fought that day, only 68 were able to an­swer roll call af­ter the bat­tle. It was a dev­as­tat­ing blow, as Ger­ald Ni­chol­son notes in The Fight­ing New­found­lan­der: A His­tory of the Royal

New­found­land Reg­i­ment: “The ca­su­alty lists from that bat­tle reached into ev­ery com­mu­nity of the is­land Colony. From the city of St. John’s down to the small­est, most re­mote out­port, there was scarcely a fam­ily that did not have the loss of some loved one to mourn.” A memo­rial in France ( above) com­mem­o­rates the sol­diers, but in New­found­land and Labrador, they’re re­mem­bered on July 1, or Memo­rial Day. The cen­te­nary year of the bat­tle is be­ing marked in the province in a num­ber of ways, in­clud­ing by the open­ing on July 1 of the Royal New­found­land Reg­i­ment Gallery at The Rooms, the pro­vin­cial mu­seum, art gallery and archives. Among the items in the new per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion will be some­thing that rep­re­sents New­found­lan­ders who died at Beau­mon­tHamel fi­nally com­ing home to rest — soil pa­tri­ated from the bat­tle­field it­self.

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