Friday, July 1, 2011

‘Dead men can advance no further’

July 1st, Lest we forget: Caribou Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel, dedicated to members of the Newfoundland Regiment who lost their lives on the first day of the Battle
of the Somme, 1st July 1916.

July 1st, Happy Canada Day — the nation's 144th birthday.

A day of duality.
•••

It wasn’t so much a sunrise ceremony this morning at 6 a.m. on Signal Hill, as a “fog-rise ceremony,” as one person put it.


Most people wore raincoats (hood up, pulled tight) or winter coats, which haven’t been put away just yet.


At least it wasn't snowing.


The trumpet melded in with the foghorn, and the Ode to Newfoundland was powerful.


Caplin weather can be lovely.

•••

Today is Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador, the most solemn day of the year.


Today is also Canada Day, the country’s 144rd birthday — a day of celebration.


The tragedy for Newfoundland at Beaumont Hamel, France during the First World War is often overshadowed by the nation’s birthday.


At midday we’re supposed to switch from a Memorial Day focus to Canada Day focus.


That’s hard to do.


July 1, 1916 was the bloodiest day in Newfoundland and Labrador history.


Of the 801 Newfoundlander officers and men who took part in the assault at Beaumont Hamel — most of who were in their late teens or early 20s — 710 were either killed or wounded.


Only 68 of the 801 Newfoundlanders who went into battle that July 1st answered the roll call the next day.


The Commander of the 88th brigade — Brigadier-General Cayley — wrote to then-Prime Minister of Newfoundland, Sir Edward Morris.


He wrote about the courage and discipline displayed by the members of the Newfoundland Regiment in their first battle on the Western Front at Beaumont Hamel.


He wrote: “It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed because dead men can advance no further.”


For the small nation of Newfoundland, the loss was absolutely devastating — felt in every town, in every outport, and in every family.


July 1st — Lest we forget.


July 1st — Happy Birthday!


2 comments:

chadan said...

Very well expressed, Ryan!

NL-ExPatriate said...

England commanded us then and ON/QU commands us now via the national parties and our Tyranny of the majority political system.

We have no one to blame but our selves for electing national party reps and expecting a different result. Insane!

Good Luck Ryan!