OTTAWA, July 1, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie, issued the following statement today in recognition of the 97th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel.
"The Battle of the Somme began in the early morning on July 1st when British and French troops, including Canadians and Newfoundlanders, climbed out of their trenches to advance toward the enemy positions.
"Heavy enemy machine gun, rifle and artillery fire took a shocking toll on the attackers and tragically more than 57,000 soldiers of the British Empire were killed, missing or wounded. These were the heaviest combat losses ever suffered by the British Army in a single day. For the Newfoundlanders, their Regiment saw some 86 percent of its fighting force become casualties on that day.
"It is little wonder that the July 1st ceremonies in Newfoundland are marked by both joy and sadness. The citizens of Newfoundland pause each July 1st to remember those who gave so much to help protect the peace and freedom we enjoy today.
"This Canada Day, as we rejoice in our Canadian nationhood, it is also our duty to take time to remember the sacrifices and accomplishments of those brave troops who served in the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. Lest we forget."
For more information the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel, visit veterans.gc.ca.
2013 is the Year of the Korean War Veteran—Canada proudly remembers the heroes of the Korean War and their brave fight to uphold freedom, democracy and the rule of law. For more information on the Korean War, visit veterans.gc.ca.
SOURCE: Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information:
Media Relations Advisor
Veterans Affairs Canada
Jean-Christophe de Le Rue
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs