Beaumont Hamel Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1st is Memorial Day. It’s been that longer than it’s been Canada Day. Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. But July 1st has had special significance for 99 years, since 1916.

On July 1st 1916, 801 men of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment went over the top at Beaumont Hamel in France, part of the Battle of the Somme. Only 68 answered roll call July 2nd. Of the rest, about half were killed or missing and the other half wounded.

After Beaumont Hamel Regiment quickly regrouped and continued fighting. Six weeks later they were at Flanders then back in the Somme. After the Battle of Cambrai in November 1917, they were honoured by King George V and renamed the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

The casualties of the First World War for Newfoundland soldiers and sailors were about 1,500 killed and 2,500 wounded. A huge chunk out of a whole generation. And a huge public debt for financing that war effort: about 10 million dollars plus pensions for veterans.

Ronald Dunn, Bonavista, RNR 29th Div. D Co.
Ronald Dunn, Bonavista, RNR 29th Div. D Co.

The price of fish dropped in the 1920s, followed by the depression of the 1930s. Debt, deprivation and instability led in 1933 to Newfoundland giving up self-government in favour of direct rule by Great Britain, in a Commission of Government. Another 15 years of debating how Newfoundland would be governed and by whom. Another world war to which Newfoundland again sent troops. And in 1948 a referendum, narrowly won by those who wanted to join Canada.
Newfoundland Park, Beaumont Hamel 1925

So July 1st is now a day of national celebration in Newfoundland and Labrador, just as it is on the mainland. But it’s a sombre day as well. It’s the day to mourn, remember and honour the men known as The Blue Puttees and their proud country.

Beaumont Hamel
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If you haven’t already, read Kevin Major’s 1995 novel No Man’s Land. It’s wonderful.

Here is a 1988 interview with Ronald Dunn, a veteran of Beaumont Hamel pictured above.

My Colombe Brothers post is about a family from Shallop Cove in Bay St. George. Another, Newfoundland’s Gallipoli,  came about because of this post.

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5 thoughts on “Beaumont Hamel”

  1. Thank u Dorothy for reading my message and your repky. Looking forward to reading your words on Gallipolli. Thought u might like to know where i was talking about my great uncles i got to thinking of my Mom’s Dad he served in Merchant Marine. I am also going to c if any medals were issued to him as well if not i am going to c if i can get them and also proudly display them as well.

    1. Hi Mike, hope it’s all right that I used your comment about George and Stanley to introduce my Gallipoli post. I was happy to find a site giving their parents’ names and home as Battery Road. I hope you track down your grandfather’s war record too. The Merchant Marine history is really interesting. Again, thanks so much for writing and giving me this idea for my Remembrance Day post.

  2. PTES STANLEY and George Abbott of the Blue Puttees later Royal Newfoundland Regiment were my Grandmothers brothers. I remember that picture of them one sitting the other standing at her house. Thst picture is still in family my Dads sister has it. I used to do a lot of looking at that picture. About 10yrs ago i was thinking of trying to c if they ever got their Medals that they both deservedm one would b Newfoundland Volunteer Medal and others. Nfld one being more important to me as it hits so close to home. Dad said he didnt know if they ever got anything. They had made it througj Galopili only to b struck down as well as all the others as we al know. Sadly my father has passed as well. Seeing thst picture brings back those memories and gets me thinking of checking into their medals to have and proudly display to and in family. Thank u for letting me comment. Keep up the good work. We have to remember and keep their ultimate sacrifice worth it. All the best God Bkess U. Mike Barrett proud relative of Ptes Stanley and George Abbott.

    1. Thanks, Mike, for writing and for the information on your great-uncles. I’m so glad your family still has the photograph of them. I hope you can find out about their medals. At the library recently, I got a Remembrance Week newsletter that has an article about Newfoundlanders at Gallipoli. After reading it and then getting your comment, I decided to post something about that. Tomorrow, I hope.

    2. Hello Mr. Mike Barrett. I am doing a project on The Royal Newfoundlanders Regiment on Beaumont- Hamel. I was doing some of the men who gave up their lives that day and Ptes. Stanley and George Abbott are two of them. I was wondering if you have found out about anything regarding their medals? My condolences and thank you for your families services.

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