Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in France, surmounted with a bronze caribou, emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment (Photo: Centenary News)

Royal family join Newfoundland tributes to 'defining moment' on the Somme

Posted on on 03 July 2016
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Princess Anne joined Newfoundlanders at commemorations on July 1st 2016 remembering their soldiers who fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Wreaths were laid by the Princess Royal and leaders of the Canadian province at the National War Memorial in the capital, St John's.

In France, Prince Charles, accompanied by his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, took part in a ceremony at  Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial as part of the couple's centenary visit to the Somme.

Troops of the Newfoundland Regiment were almost wiped out within an hour of mounting an attack on heavily fortified positions at the village of Beaumont-Hamel on July 1st 1916.

Of just over 800 men who went into action that morning, 233 were killed, 386 were wounded and 91 were reported missing. 

Welcoming Princess Anne's visit for the 2016 Centenary, Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball said: "One hundred years ago, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians distinguished themselves in battle. 

"At the time, we were a small dominion of the British Empire and our men answered the call, serving with the British expeditionary forces. The First World War was a defining moment in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador and continues to shape who we are today."

View of the preserved trenches at the Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont-Hamel (Photo: Centenary News)

July 1st has been observed annually as Memorial Day in Newfoundland since 1917.

Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, attended the centenary commemorations at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

In a Memorial Day statement, he paid tribute to the men of the Newfoundland Regiment who'd advanced 'into the teeth of the enemy' a century ago.

"Beaumont Hamel is a name that is seared into the hearts of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It is a name that represents courage, sacrifice, and sorrow, " Mr Trudeau said.

"As one major wrote: ‘The only visible sign the men knew they were under such terrifying shell fire was that they tucked their chins into an advanced shoulder as they had so often done when fighting their way home against a Newfoundland blizzard.’

"While we can never repay this debt, we can honour and remember all those who have served and continue to serve and protect our great nation."

Also in Centenary News:

Special exhibition at the Canadian War Museum 'Traces of the First World War - Newfoundland & Labrador' until January 1st 2017.

Sources: Newfoundland Government; Canadian Prime Minister's office

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: CN Editorial Team