01 July 2005

Commemoration Day 2005

For those across the country, take a pause as you begin your Canada Day.

In 1949, the history of Newfoundland and Labrador became your history too.

July 1 has been known as Commemoration Day since 1917, making it one of the oldest annual memorial days in the Commonwealth. On this day 89 years ago, at 0915 AM local time, more than 800 young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians of the Newfoundland Regiment (later the Royal Newfoundland Regiment) attacked German trenches in front of the French town of Beaumont Hamel.

Fewer than 70 were able to answer roll-call next day and those consisted almost entirely of the 10% hold-back left to reconstitute the battalion. Every single one of the men who came out of the trenches that day was killed or wounded in the space of a mere 30 minutes.

Last night was the official regimental mess dinner to mark the event. In addition to the commanding officer, former commanding officers, current and former members and friends of the regiment , dignitaries at the dinner included His Honour the Lieutenant Governor, defence minister Bill Graham, municipal affairs minister Jack Byrne, army commander Lieutenant General Marc Caron, regional army commander brigadier general R Romses (whose mess kit was obviously in desperate need of being brought up to standard by a professional tailor).

For those of you unfamiliar with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Beaumont Hamel, try the links here and here.

And have a happy Canada Day.