I'd just like to say Happy Canada Day to all of my Canadian brethren here at mreinfo!
I usually try to write a small piece every July 1st to encapsulate how this day makes me feel and post it to Facebook and wherever else:
Today is obviously Canada Day, but here in Newfoundland it is so much more. Today my mind drifts to battle at Beaumont-Hamel on the first morning of the Battle of the Somme on July 1st, 1916 and the fact that it is also Memorial Day here in Newfoundland! My mind cannot fathom the fact that the Newfoundland Regiment began this day with 800 or so men, and by this time tomorrow only 68 would be able to answer roll-call.
What can one say about the passing of over 100 years? For some it can seem like an eternity; others may find that pain and sorrow still can remain.
The story of the Newfoundland Regiment on this day in the early hours of the Battle of the Somme is actually two stories. One story speaks of glorious honour and courage and sacrifice. The sort of honour and courage that is evident in the fact that some men, wounded and hobbling back to the line, were reported to have asked simply "Is the Colonel pleased?". Is the Colonel pleased...... dear god, to have seen hundreds of your friends and brothers-in-arms killed and maimed and for that to be your main concern? The thought of it still makes me shivver with a sense of honour that I know I will never truly be able to understand.
But this is also a story of horrible folly. A story of utterly senseless slaughter. To arise from our secondary trenches and less than an hour later be almost completely wiped out speaks to the horrible ineptitude of our commanders and the fact that our good 'ol Newfoundland colonial troops seemed, throughout the war, to be rather good at taking German machine gun bullets.
How much of our history was both shaped by that day and taken away from us on that day. What would some of those young men have become? What discoveries would they have made? What future generations would they have created? We will never know.
We will never know because on this day, one full century ago, near the tiny hamlet of Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment was nearly wiped off the face of the earth. And this would almost happen several more times before the war would end.
Teach everyone you can about this day. My career gives me a chance to do this and I am grateful for that. Never let people forget about this supreme sacrifice AND the utter waste of human life.
I leave you with these words from Wilfred Owen: "What passing bells for these who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the guns..."
For non-MRE, non-ration topics
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