Search for "First Newfoundland Regiment"

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The Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel

On 1 July 1916, Allied forces launched a major offensive in France during the First World War. The opening of the Somme offensive turned into one of the deadliest days in the history of modern warfare. At the village of Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment suffered catastrophic losses. More than 80 percent of the soldiers who advanced that day were either killed or wounded. In one morning, the regiment suffered approximately 700 casualties, including more than 300 dead.

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Canada and the Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was fought during the First World War from 1 July to 18 November 1916. In the summer of 1916 the British launched the largest battle of the war on the Western Front, against German lines. The offensive was one of the bloodiest in human history. Over the course of five months, approximately 1.2 million men were killed or wounded at the Somme. The Canadian Corps (see Canadian Expeditionary Force) was involved in the final three months of fighting. On the first day of the offensive, the First Newfoundland Regiment, which was not part of the Canadian forces, was nearly annihilated at Beaumont-Hamel. The Battle of the Somme produced little gains and has long been an example of senseless slaughter and the futility of trench warfare (see also The Somme).

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Owen William Steele

Owen William Steele, salesman, soldier and officer (born 28 April 1887 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador; died 8 July 1916 near Englebelmer, France). Owen Steele was an officer in the Newfoundland Regiment who served during the First World War. The regiment suffered horrendous losses in July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme (see The Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel). Steele is best known for the detailed journal he kept from his enlistment to his death in France in July 1916. His journal and letters from the front provide insight into the experiences and impressions of Newfoundland soldiers during the war.

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Royal Newfoundland Regiment

The Newfoundland Regiment was established in September 1914 and served overseas during the First World War. It was redesignated the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in 1918. The regiment served in the Gallipoli (or Dardanelles) campaign, and in France and Belgium. It suffered heavy casualties during the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel on 1 July 1916; more than 80 per cent of the regiment was either killed or wounded. The regiment was disbanded in 1919. In 1949, after Newfoundland entered into confederation with Canada, the Newfoundland Regiment was re-established as a Royal Canadian Infantry Corps reserve regiment.

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John Shiwak

John Shiwak (Sikoak), Inuit hunter, trapper, soldier (born February or March 1889 in Cul-de-Sac, near Rigolet, Labrador; died 21 November 1917 near Masnières, France). Shiwak was one of more than 60 men from Labrador who joined the military during the First World War. He went on to become one of the best scouts and snipers on the Western Front.

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Hypo Helmet

The Hypo Helmet (or “Smoke Helmet”) was an early gas mask developed by Newfoundland doctor Captain Cluny Macpherson during the First World War. Macpherson began working on the Hypo Helmet after the Germany army launched its first chlorine gas attack at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915. The British army began issuing the Hypo Helmet to Canadian and British soldiers in May 1915. The design was soon modified, resulting in the P, PH and PHG Helmets. By war’s end, 2.5 million Hypo Helmets had been issued. The gas mask was one of the most important innovations of the First World War.