Ceremony in France marks 99th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme
Jul 01, 2015, 11:15 ET
A tribute to Newfoundlanders who fought during the First World War
BEAUMONT-HAMEL, France, July 1, 2015 /CNW/ - On the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, Canadian and French citizens gathered today at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in France to commemorate the Newfoundland soldiers who fought so valiantly during the opening day of the Battle of the Somme during the First World War.
On behalf of the Honourable Erin O'Toole, Canada's Minister of Veterans Affairs, Graeme Clark, Plenipotentiary Minister with the Canadian Embassy in Paris, paid tribute to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and honoured the memory of all the brave men and women who served during the First World War.
- The Battle of the Somme began at 7:30 a.m. on July 1, 1916, along the Western Front in France. Thousands of soldiers from Britain, its Commonwealth members, including Newfoundland, and France climbed out of their trenches to cross "No Man's Land" through a hail of machine gun fire toward the German lines. By the day's end, more than 57,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers had been killed or wounded, or were missing.
- It would be the start of a brutal, more than four-month battle in which the Allies moved the front line forward about 10 kilometres. During the fall, in offensives that began at Courcelette, the Canadian Corps also fought with distinction.
- The 1st Newfoundland Regiment was virtually decimated near the towns of Beaumont and Hamel, although the survivors continued and the reinforced regiment later earned the official designation "Royal Newfoundland Regiment" in recognition of its gallant service.
- The striking Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in France—a bronze caribou, which is the emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment—commemorates more than 800 Newfoundlanders who died in the war and have no known grave.
"Today we remember and honour the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who fought so bravely in the face of overwhelming odds in the Battle of the Somme during the First World War. We will never forget the many Newfoundlanders who made the ultimate sacrifice for peace and freedom."
The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs
"For us Canadians and Newfoundlanders, the Beaumont-Hamel Caribou is very important, as it marks the place where the first combats of a major battle, the Battle of the Somme, took place nearly 100 years ago. It is where so many men gave their life in the name of freedom."
Graeme Clark, Plenipotentiary Minister, Canadian Embassy, Paris
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468
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