25 April 2006

Royal Newfoundland Regiment celebrates and commemorates

April 25th marks the 211th birthday of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

On this day in 1795, the first Royal Newfoundland Regiment was raised from residents of the then colony. It continued in existence until the 1860s when it was absorbed into the regiment manning the local garrison.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, the Newfoundland Regiment was formed and fought throughout the war in the Middle East and western Europe. The regiment's 1st battalion was almost wiped out at Beaumont Hamel July 1, 1916 and suffered heavy casualties at Monchy-le-Preux the following year. The regiment received the title "Royal" in 1917 after seeing action at Cambrai.

Disbanded in 1919, the regiment was reformed as a reserve infantry unit of the Canadian Army in 1949.

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment was the only North American unit to see action during the Gallipoli campaign (1915-1916). While the major Allied assault took place on April 25, 1915, the Newfoundlanders arrived on the peninsula the following September. It was at Gallipoli that the regiment suffered its first casualty in action. During the withdrawal in January 1916, the Newfoundland Regiment twice provided the covering force for Allied units.

April 25, also known as ANZAC Day, is also marked by the regiment in recognition of its part in the Gallipoli operation.

While acclimatizing in Egypt, members of the regiment earned the respect of Australian and New Zealand forces who were known for their rough and ready approach. Reportedly word soon spread after the Newfoundlanders' arrival that the ANZACs should watch out for the "guys with goats on their caps." This is a reference to the caribou emblem on the regimental capbadge, which under certain conditions could be mistaken for a goat.