OTTAWA, July 1, 2015 /CNW/ - On behalf of the Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Senator David Wells participated in a commemorative wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa to honour the Newfoundland soldiers who fought and died at Beaumont-Hamel, France, during the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Wreaths are placed next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial, a deeply sacred site where an unnamed Canadian soldier who died in the First World War is laid to rest, unknown, but never forgotten.
Commemorative wreath-laying ceremonies to mark the 99th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel were also held in St. John's, Newfoundland, as well as in Beaumont-Hamel, France.
- The battle took a terrible toll: of more than 800 Newfoundlanders who went into battle at Beaumont-Hamel on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, only 68 souls answered the roll call the next morning.
- The First World War's Battle of the Somme was one of the deadliest battles in military history.
- Casualties sustained by the British Army on the first day of the Battle of the Somme totalled approximately 57,500, including more than 19,000 killed.
"Today, as we mark the birth of our great nation, we must also remember the Newfoundlanders whose sacrifice and legacy at the Battle of the Somme shaped our identity—our Canada."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"It is an honour and a privilege to commemorate the brave Newfoundlanders who fought so vigorously at Beaumont-Hamel on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme 99 years ago today. The sacrifices of these brave soldiers helped allow us to live as we do today – in a country with peace and democracy. Canadians must never forget those who gave their lives for us and for our country."
Senator David Wells
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Contacts: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468