People served in many different ways overseas. Some gave orders, others followed them. Many men with specific training or experience had specialist jobs. These included essential roles—cobbler, cook, transport officer—and tactical ones: sniper, intelligence officer. Among the other supports roles were medics, ambulance drivers, merchant mariners and lumbermen.
Timber was needed for trench supports, walkways (duck boards) and railway ties. The Newfoundland Government authorized a Forestry Corps in April 1917. Five hundred men from Newfoundland and Labrador, including some too old or medically unfit for the army, served as lumberjacks or sawmill hands in Scotland.
Private Stewart Dewling
Newfoundland Regiment #20
Medics treated and rescued wounded men from the battlefield, often under fire and over war-torn terrain. Medic Stewart Dewling used basic medical supplies like these to save lives. His bravery at Beaumont-Hamel earned him the Military Medal. After the war, he opened a physiotherapy clinic in St. John’s.
Captain Doctor Cluny Macpherson
Royal Army Medical Corps
"[Captain Macpherson] rendered most valuable service by devising a form of headgear to act as a protection against gases, which has been adopted by the War Office." H. Fagg Batterbee, Colonial Office, London, to Governor Davidson, May 9th, 1915
Cluny Macpherson practised medicine in his hometown, St. John’s, where he organized the Methodist Guards Brigade and the St. John Ambulance Brigade. A Medical Officer at the Pleasantville Camp, he travelled to Britain in March 1915, tasked with making the medical arrangements for the Newfoundland soldiers. Doctor Macpherson is credited with designing the first effective protection against the deadly poisonous chlorine gas, his simple “Hypo Helmet” or “British Smoke Helmet.” Made with chemically treated fabric that he tested on himself, the helmet was easily mass-produced. Beginning in June 1915, 2.5 million were issued to British and Empire troops.
Voluntary Aid Detachment Volunteers Elsie Herder and Mary Rendell
Elsie Herder and Mary Rendell, both from St. John’s, volunteered to join the war effort, signing up with the Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.). They both served overseas: Elsie in hospitals in England, Mary as a driver in England and France. Mary later married Elsie’s brother Ralph, a Blue Puttee.
"I would be very much obliged if you, or perhaps Lady Davidson, would advise Mrs. Furse [Founder of the British Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.)] that this ambulance has been given, and that the donors would like it to be driven by Driver Gosling if she is still attached to the V.A.D." Donation Letter From Mayor William G. Gosling, on behalf of the citizens of St. John’s.
June 7th, 1917
Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Alfred Timewell
A chartered accountant, Henry Timewell was appointed the Regiment’s Paymaster and set up its Pay and Record Office in London. Promoted to Chief Staff Officer, he managed the “military fund” (for rations, pay and equipment maintenance) and kept records in order. Henry held this position until he retired
Feeding troops was an endless challenge. In field kitchens, army cooks produced food from limited resources. But in the trenches, the men often had only the rations they carried—“bully beef,” “hard tack” biscuits and jam. Hot food and good water were rare. Food packages from home were always welcome.
Corporal Isaiah McConnell
Newfoundland Regiment #396
Irish-born Isaiah McConnell, living in St. John’s, joined the Newfoundland Regiment, fighting in Gallipoli and France. He developed bronchitis and was hospitalized. Unfit to fight, he was assigned to teach musketry (shooting), a nod to his skill with a rifle. He was discharged medically unfit in December 1918.
"Your son was one of my best pilots and as you know, had been in the squadron for a comparatively long time. His experience of war flying had made him a most valuable pilot by the time of the accident." Written to 2nd Lieutenant Stanley Green’s father by the 57th Squadron’s Commanding Officer, Royal Flying Corps.
July 7th, 1917
Sergeant William Edward Snook
Newfoundland Regiment #640
Good footwear was essential to a soldier’s health during long marches and in the trenches. Boots had to be kept in proper repair. William Snook, from Fortune, served for much of the war as a cobbler in the Regiment’s “Shoe Shop.” After the war, he moved to Toronto.
Musicians, recruited from the Burgh of Ayr Band, formed the Newfoundland Regimental Band in 1914. With instruments donated by St. John’s businessman Sir Edgar Bowring, the band raised Newfoundland’s profile and entertained troops. Thirty strong, they played across Britain, for the King and twice for the Regiment in France.
Lieutenant Robert (“Bert”) Holloway
Sniping and Intelligence Officer
After starting Holloway Studio with his sister Elsie, Bert Holloway enlisted with the Newfoundland Regiment. As a Sniping and Intelligence Officer, Bert was instrumental in capturing German targets and took great risks to gather information. Praised for his “gallantry and initiative,” he died at Monchy-le-Preux in 1917.