Red Head Cove remembers Beaumont-Hamel casualty
Private John Joseph Rice remembered at Memorial Day ceremony
Red Head Cove residents had an extra special Memorial Day ceremony this year. Thanks to some research spearheaded by a distant relative, a new display board was unveiled honouring the life of Pte. John Joseph Rice. A native of Baccalieu Island, Rice was killed during the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel.
John Joseph Rice was born on Baccalieu Island to parents Patrick and Agnes Rice of Red Head Cove.
Exactly 100 years after the day of his death in the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, residents of the latter community gathered to pay their respects to Rice as part of a Memorial Day ceremony.
The event at the Red Head Cove Community Centre also served as an occasion to unveil a new display board chronicling the life of the lone soldier from communities in the Old Perlican and Bay de Verde area killed in the famous First World War battle.
“We didn’t actually know we had a solider from the community that fought at Beaumont-Hamel until just a couple of years ago,” explained Darrell Rice, a distant relative of Pte. Rice. “I’ve been trying to get it off the ground ever since.”
Through research, quite a bit was learned about John Joseph Rice. He was born in 1888 and was living on Fleming Street in St. John’s with his wife Bridget and child Mary Benedict Rice when he enlisted in January of 1915 at the age of 26. He left the province two months later.
In August, Rice left England to begin two weeks of training in Egypt. He took part in the landing at Gallipoli, Turkey and suffered shrapnel wound in his right heel that December. He was discharged from a field hospital in Egypt in February 1916. The Newfoundland Regiment was sent to France in March.
Rice was among more than 300 Newfoundland- ers either killed or presumed dead as a result of the intense battle at Beaumont-Hamel. His body was not recovered.
Darrell Rice handled most of the research on the project, with Joanne Hatch also providing some help. A draft version of the display board was shown during the Memorial Day ceremony. It will eventually take a place on the Baccalieu View Walking Trail. The Honour 100 initiative supported the project.
“The service went really well and I has very happy to see many people there from not just Red Head Cove but the surrounding communities as well,” said Darrell Rice, who hopes it will become an annual event. “It was nice to have everyone to come together.”
It was nice to have everyone to come together.
— Darrell Rice
Standing beside the display board honouring the life of Pte. John Joseph Rice are, left to right, (Retired - Navy) Petty Officer Second Class Clyde Bursey, Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Deanne Rice, Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Morgan Hyde, and (Retired - Navy) Petty Officer First Class Stephane Tremblay.
(Retired - Navy) Petty Officer First Class Stephane Tremblay, left, and Darrell Rice. Darrell handled much of the research that went into creating a display board to honour the memory of Pte. John Joseph Rice.
Shown here unveiling the new display board are, left to right, Marion Hyde and Mary-Lou Riggs — two committee members of the Red Head Cove Community Centre — and Darrell Rice.