July 20th, 2024

Newfoundland soldier who died in the First World War laid to rest at home

By The Canadian Press on July 1, 2024.

Members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment stand guard over the remains of an Unknown Newfoundland soldier as he lies in state at the Confederation Building in St. John's on Friday, June 28, 2024. The remains of a soldier from Newfoundland killed in the battlefields of France during the First World War will be laid to rest in St. John's Monday, bringing an emotional end to a years-long effort in a place still shaken and forever changed by the bloodshed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Hundreds of people gathered in Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital city this morning to pay their respects to a soldier who has finally returned home from the battlefields of France after more than 100 years.

The unknown Newfoundland soldier was laid to rest in a black granite tomb at the National War Memorial in St. John’s.

The ceremony to mark his reinterment, which was attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, coincided with the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the war memorial.

Today is Canada Day in the rest of the country, but in Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 begins as Memorial Day.

It’s a time to remember the hundreds of young men from the Newfoundland Regiment who died during the disastrous battle at Beaumont-Hamel, in northern France, at a time when Newfoundland was not yet part of Canada.

About 800 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment charged over the top of the trenches on the morning of July 1, 1916, armed with only rifles and bayonets, toward the Germans’ machine-gun fire, and only 68 made it to roll call the next morning. The rest were killed, wounded or declared missing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2024.

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