The search for Eldon Froude
Relatively few details are known about the brief life and briefer career of Eldon Froude.
It is known that he was born on Oct. 15, 1893. A second known fact is that he was born in Old Perlican, located on the tip of the Bay de Verde peninsula.
Though his early life is shrouded in mystery, it is also an established fact that he was a member of the Loyal Orange Lodge, the wellknown fraternal organization that exists in many communities.
On Jan. 14, 1916, halfway through the First World War, Froude volunteered for active service with the 1st Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, No. 3389. Almost three years later, on Oct. 15, 1918, he was killed in action “somewhere in France,” according to a monument later erected in his honour. The date of his death coincided with his 25th birthday.
“ The exact circumstances of his death are not known,” writes Linda White, an archivist with Archives and Special Collections, Queen Elizabeth II Library, Memorial University.
“During mid-October 1918, the soldiers in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, as part of the 9th Scottish Division, were engaged in the Battle of Courtrai. They moved into position at dusk on Oct. 13. Zero hour for the attack on the German troops was 5:35 a.m. on Oct. 14. As they moved along in single file, the Germans began shelling them heavily, killing 50 of the 2nd Royal Scots Fusiliers and 15 of the Newfoundlanders.”
Was Froude among this group? The answer to this question is unknown, unless new information comes to light. Did Froude survive the shelling, living to fight the battle, only to be killed as he pursued the enemy across the Wulfdambeek, a sixfootdeep river? Again, the answer remains a mystery.
White comments, “ Many Newfoundlanders were hit midstream and found a watery grave.” The possibility exists that Froude made it past this hurdle.
The n , a s h i s p l a t o on advanced, trying to outflank the German battery, Froude may have found himself face-to-face with deadly-accurate machine gun fire.
“ It is certain that, over the course of those two days, the company lost two young Newfoundland officers, and many among the rank and file were killed or wounded,” White adds.
Perhaps Froude’s name was one of those on the casualty list. He had served with distinction with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Expeditionary Forces in Flanders and France. Following his death, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment prepared a scroll of commemoration for Pte. Eldon Froude, acknowledging the supreme sacrifice he made for his country.
It reads: “He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger; and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten.”
In later years, Cabot Lodge L.O.L. No. 49 erected a monument in Froude’s “sacred memory.” Perhaps readers can shed additional light on Eldon Froude.
The photograph of Pte. Eldon Froude of Old Perlican was pasted in a hand-painted frame with the words “Our Soldier Boy” and the Union Jack.