July 1st Means Something Different in Newfoundland and Labrador
July 1st means something very different in Newfoundland and Labrador, while it is a day of celebration across Canada, it is a day of mourning in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Memorial Day has been observed annually since 1 July 1917, to recall the losses of approximately 700 soldiers of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment from the Dominion of Newfoundland at Beaumont-Hamel on the first day on the Somme during the First World War.
During the First World War Newfoundland was a Dominion of the British Empire with a population of 240,000, and not yet part of Canada.
The infantry assault began on 1 July 1916, and at 8:45 a.m. the Newfoundland Regiment and 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment received orders to move forward.
So far as can be ascertained, 22 officers and 758 other ranks were directly involved in the advance.
Of these, all the officers and slightly under 658 other ranks became casualties.
Of the 780 men who went forward only about 110 survived unscathed, of whom only 68 were available for roll call the following day.
For all intents and purposes, the Newfoundland Regiment had been wiped out, the unit as a whole having suffered a casualty rate of approximately 90%.