After Shocks

"Newfoundland may well feel proud of her sons. The heroism and devotion to duty they displayed on 1st July has never been surpassed." Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig
Commander-in-Chief, British Expeditionary Force
in a telegram to Governor Davidson, July 9th, 1916

At first, the British authorities boasted of a great victory—an attempt to keep up morale. Then, with the casualty lists, came the unthinkable truth: July 1st had been the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. The 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment was all but gone.

The losses and devastation affected communities across the dominion. People were stunned with shock and stilled by mourning, even as they worked to rebuild the Regiment.

July 1st, 1916, quickly became a symbol of our courageous service, unwavering commitment and huge sacrifice. But at what cost?

To this day, many people in Newfoundland and Labrador feel that the events at Beaumont-Hamel are part of our collective consciousness, deeply connected to our sense of who we are.

“The best of Newfoundland’s manhood were killed that day . . . . It was a terrific calamity to Newfoundland.”Recollections of Lieutenant Ken Goodyear
Newfoundland Regiment, 1950s

Lieutenant William Norman Collins

Seaforth Highlanders

After the Battle of the Somme ended in November 1916, William Collins led men into No Man’s Land to bury the dead, a traumatic and gruesome task. He found the remains of many Newfoundlanders that had been decomposing on the field for months.

"I was detailed to bury the dead . . . . We took out of the uniform breast pocket the soldier’s pay book, which held his will and letters from home and photo- graphs of his family . . . . But, I left on each body, the identity disks so that the bodies could be recognized . . . [to] be given a proper burial" Recollections of Lieutenant William Norman Collins
Seaforth Highlanders, 1997

The "Danger Tree"

Tradition holds that the Danger Tree—a lone war-torn sentinel little more than halfway between the two front lines—marked the furthest advance of the Newfoundlanders on July 1st. Left standing despite the brutal pounding, it became a powerful symbol of what was achieved and what was lost at Beaumont-Hamel.

"I got hit by the place known as the Old Danger Tree . . . a landmark between the German trenches and our own, and anybody who got there got killed or hit anyhow. I was . . . lying there in No Man’s Land . . . [with] bullet[s] going crazy, and shells flying, and men dying around you. You could smell blood like a slaughter house." Recollections of Lieutenant Ken Goodyear
Newfoundland Regiment, 1950s

Beaumont-Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou