July 1st, 1916

“Has the enemy’s front line been captured?” Question from Lieutenant-Colonel A. L. Hadow
Commanding Officer, Newfoundland Regiment
“The situation is not cleared up.” Answer from Brigade Headquarters
The Somme, France, July 1st, 1916

7:20 a.m.
The Allies detonate a mine beneath the German trenches on Hawthorn Ridge. The noise is breathtakingly loud—people in London hear it. This is a signal that the attack will commence in ten minutes.

7:30 a.m.
From their front lines, the first wave of Allied troops pour out, each battalion at its appointed time. They are met by heavy enemy fire.

Still 229 metres (250 yards) behind the front line, the Newfoundland Regiment waits to attack with the second wave at 8:40 a.m.

8:20 a.m.
The Regiment’s orders are changed. The attack isn’t going as planned.

"The attack started an hour before we went over [the top]. While waiting in the trench, spent machine gun bullets fell at our feet." Recollections of Sergeant Anthony James Stacey Newfoundland Regiment, 1960s

"At [7:20 a.m. on July 1st], above the bombardment, was felt the concussion and trembling of the earth as the ground in front of Beaumont-Hamel [at Hawthorn Ridge] shot like a fountain into the air." Recollections of Major and Adjutant Arthur Raley
Newfoundland Regiment, 1921

"I gave the order to advance. Then the leading line rose as one man and we started off." Recollections of Lieutenant-Colonel A. L. Hadow
Newfoundland Regiment, 1950s

8:45 a.m.

The order to advance arrives by telephone. The front line trench and four lines of barbed wire lie ahead.

9:15 a.m.

Our Regiment emerges into a  firestorm of bullets. The only ones moving, they aim for the gaps in Allied barbed wire. The enemy guns are blazing.

The men struggle at the gaps in the wire, which clog with the dead and wounded. Those that get past the barbed wire into No Man’s Land receive the full force of enemy fire.

They push on until none are left standing.

Colonel Hadow reports: the advance was a failure.

"I got a bullet through my right lung, & thought all was up . . . . I was bleeding a lot, most all the blood came out of my mouth on account of me breathing." Recollections of Private Arthur Fred Osmond
Newfoundland Regiment, mid-1900s
"The high explosive shells blew the dead and wounded in shell holes to pieces." Recollections of Sergeant Anthony James Stacey
Newfoundland Regiment, 1960s
"This was a proper trap for our boys, as the enemy just set the sights of their machine guns on the gaps in the barbed wire and fired." Recollections of Sergeant Anthony James Stacey
Newfoundland Regiment, 1960s
We were just sitting ducks, nothing more or less, but ... the boys did not falter one iota. Recollections of Lieutenant Ken Goodyear
Newfoundland Regiment, 1950s

Battle Ready

Along with a heavy wool uniform and a helmet, a soldier at Beaumont-Hamel was weighed down with 29 kilograms (65 pounds) of standard equipment, and often more. He carried a rifle fixed with bayonet, ammunition, grenades, gas mask, wire cutters, food, a water bottle and an “entrenching tool” (shovel).

Infantry Uniform

The triangle shoulder patch identifies the 29th Division, to which the Newfoundland Regiment belonged.

Infantry Helmet

White and claret on the helmet identifies the Newfoundland Regiment. The “B” identifies the company within
the battalion.

"They all instinctively tucked their chins into an advanced shoulder as they had so often done when fighting their way home against a blizzard in some little outport in far-off Newfoundland." Recollections of Major and Adjutant Arthur Raley
Newfoundland Regiment, 1921
"[The 29th Division] carried a disc [triangle] made from biscuit tins on each man’s back so that the intelligence officers and the aeroplanes and so forth could see just where they were and distinguish our troops from enemy troops. This disc— when a man became wounded and turned over—would shine in the bright sunlight and snipers would get him and so he couldn’t crawl in. He just had to wait there until dark and by that time a lot of these poor men had died." Recollections of Captain Sydney Frost
Newfoundland Regiment, 1966

Sergeant Anthony James (“Jim”) Stacey

Newfoundland Regiment #466

This German bag, picked up as a souvenir, was used by Jim Stacey who was a battalion messenger—or “batman.” He ran messages between o cers and headquarters at Beaumont-Hamel and carried orders to advance into No Man’s Land on July 1st, possibly in this very bag.

The Deadliest Fire

At the Somme, the Germans had four times as many machine guns as the British. Their Maschiningewehr 08 (MG 08), like this one, shot 500 rounds a minute, often overheating from the rapid  re. When the men of the Newfoundland Regiment emerged, they were cut down in minutes.

“It was unbelievable! The British attackers picking their way through their own dead and wounded, bayonets held high, coming down the slope toward us. We simply opened fire once again. In half an hour, they were all dead and dying or pinned down and unable to move.” Recollections of a German soldier who fought at Beaumont-Hamel

Confusing Signals

White flares were the prearranged British signal that the first objective—the capture of enemy trenches—had been a success. But during the attack, the Germans also sent up white flares, signifying they needed more support. Seeing them, the British Commanders incorrectly assumed the advance was going as planned.

Beaumont-Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou