For millions of Canadians, July 1st is a time of celebration as we come together to celebrate our country’s 149th birthday. While today does mark the anniversary of confederation, it also marks a very somber time in Newfoundland and Canadian history: the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel.
On the morning of July 1st, 1916, 800 Newfoundlanders sat huddled in trenches awaiting the signal for the battle to begin. At 9:15 AM, they went up and over into No Man’s Land. Despite hours of bombardment from Allied artillery, the Germans were ready and waiting in their heavily fortified trenches. In little more than 30 minutes, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was completely decimated: only 68 men were able to answer roll call the following morning. Although initially described as a victory back home, Newfoundlanders and Canadians quickly learned the harsh reality. Almost every community in Newfoundland was touched by this tragedy; fathers, sons, cousins, and friends died together in a faraway land, the repercussions of which are still felt to this day. 100 years later, the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel is remembered as one of the worst tragedies in Newfoundland history.
Thousands of Canadians have traveled to France to mark this anniversary. They will gather at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial to honour and remember the courageous soldiers from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who died a century ago. Similar ceremonies will be taking place across Newfoundland and the rest of Canada on July 1st. Visit the Veterans Affairs Website for more information and to find a ceremony near you.
For our friends in Saskatoon, From Vimy to Juno will be on display at the Western Development Museum from July 5th to 17th before travelling to the Western Development Museum in North Battleford from July 19th to July 24th. The exhibit is bringing the First and the Second World War to communities across Canada while making commemoration an active experience. Visit it next week and commemorate both the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel and Canada Day!
For more information about the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, visit our History section.