Saturday, June 10, 2006
Today i read a news article on the VOCM News site
[Is the Ode out of Mode?
June 10, 2006
Some debate going on over how the members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment will conduct themselves when the 'Ode to Newfoundland' is played over the French battlefieds when the regiment returns to Beaumont Hamel and area next month. Lieutenent Colonel Kevin Hutchings says it's an honour to have all the members of the first and second batallions present for the 90th anniversay of the July 1st massacre. But he notes it is not permitted for Canadian Forces members to salute a, what is now, provincial anthem.]
For many outside the province who know little about our military history of WWI, here it is in a nutshell.
At that time Newfoundland was a dominion and we played a small but distinguished part in that great war. Five thousand Newfoundlanders served in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment,another thousand in the Royal Navy and still more in the forestry brigades. The royal Newfoundland Regiment took 16 Battle Honours.
France and Flanders, 1916-18
ALBERT (BEAUMONT HAMEL), 1916
One of the most tragic events to hit our island nation happened on July 1/1916.It was called the battle of Beaumont Hamel and took place on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. 790 men went over the top to advance towards the German linesthat morning. Out of these 710 were killed, wounded, or missing. Only 68 men answered the roll call the following day. Major General D.E. Cayley, Commander of the 88th. Brigade stated "It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour and only failed because dead men can advance no further."
That July morning in France probably changed the history of our island. Young future leaders never got a chance to return. No community on our island escaped the consequences of the regiment's attempt that day to advance and help end a war. We have a memorial in France to honour our dead and July 1 was always a sacred day for Newfoundlanders but since confederation with Canada we now celebrate Canada Day and the Battle of Beaumont Hamel is going out of memory.
Would it be so wrong for The Royal Newfoundland Regiment to salute when the "Ode to Newfoundland"is played at Beaumont hamel on that day? I don't think so! I also don't think we have heard the last of this.