ST. JOHN'S, July 1, 2015 /CNW/ - On behalf of the Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and the Government of Canada, Senator Norman Doyle today attended a commemorative event at the National War Memorial, in St. John's, to mark the 99th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel.
A parade led by the military band and colour parties of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the Royal Canadian Legion, Provincial Command, was followed by a special wreath-laying ceremony.
During this major battle from the First World War, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment fought valiantly in the face of enormous loss of life at Beaumont-Hamel.
- The Newfoundland Regiment earned the official designation "Royal Newfoundland Regiment" in recognition of its gallant service during the First World War.
- The Battle of the Somme lasted over four grueling months, with more than 24,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders killed or wounded.
- The Newfoundland National War Memorial in St. John's was unveiled on July 1, 1924.
- The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in France commemorates the more than 800 Newfoundlanders who died in the war and who have no known grave.
- Though July 1 is known to all Canadians as Canada Day, the day is also marked in Newfoundland and Labrador as Memorial Day.
"This is a solemn anniversary for all Canadians, and especially the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, as we recall the tremendous sacrifices and unerring bravery of those who served in the First World War. Through commemorative events such as this one today in St. John's, and by encouraging each generation to better understand our history, we honour those who have fought for our freedom."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"Before Newfoundland had joined Canada in Confederation, the people of this province demonstrated great strength of character and resolve as volunteers in the First World War. Now, 99 years later, the selflessness and courage they showed has become an inspiring part of our nation's rich story."
The Honourable Norman Doyle, Senator
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans of Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468