OTTAWA, June 30, 2015 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, issued the following statement to mark the 99th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel.
"On July 1, 1916, the Battle of the Somme began along the Western Front in France. It was intended to be the bold Allied offensive that would finally break the stalemate of trench fighting during the First World War but that was not to be the case. The first day of the fighting saw thousands of soldiers from Britain, France and Newfoundland climb over the top of their trenches to cross "No Man's Land" and engage the enemy. The German guns took a terrible toll and made the Battle of the Somme one of the deadliest battles in human history.
"The 1st Newfoundland Regiment was virtually decimated in the fighting near the village of Beaumont-Hamel on that July 1st, almost a century ago. Of the more than 800 who went into battle, only 68 were able to answer the roll call the next morning. We will continue to remember all of the Newfoundlanders who fought so bravely and the impact this sacrifice left on Newfoundland society. We must never forget.
"Canadians would also see heavy action in the Battle of the Somme in the late summer and fall of 1916. Fighting on the Somme at places like Courcelette and Regina Trench would cost our country more than 24,000 casualties, but it was here that our soldiers further established their growing reputation as hard-hitting troops.
"Our nation believes in the values of freedom, peace, and the rule of law—the preservation of which comes at a great cost. We will continue to remember the men and women who served, and who continue to serve, in defense of these shared values.
"Lest we forget."
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Media inquiries: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468