July Drive, The
DESCRIPTION: "Shout loud the praise of Newfoundland our gallant volunteers... lost their lives to save the flag." "Their regiment full 800 strong were foremost in the fight ... They marched up to the German lines." "In that drive they lost their lives"
EARLIEST DATE: 1951 (MUNFLA-Leach)
KEYWORDS: battle war death nonballad patriotic soldier
Jul 1, 1916 - Battle of Beaumont Hamel, at which the Newfoundland Regiment was slaughtered
FOUND IN: Canada(Newf)
John Bulger, "The July Drive" (on MUNFLA-Leach)
cf. "The Dying Soldier (III)" (subject of Newfoundlanders dying in World War I)
cf. "Soldier's Last Letter" (subject of Newfoundlanders dying in World War I)
cf. "The Valley of Kilbride" (subject of Beaumont Hamel)
NOTES [301 words]: Sean T. Cadigan, Newfoundland and Labrador: A History, University of Toronto Press, 2009, pp. 187-188, describes the battle of Beaumont Hamel:
"The Newfoundland Regiment acquitted itself well through many of the toughest battles of the war. It fought the Turks at Gallipoli and the Germans in the muddy trenches of France in the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916.... Allied command assigned the regiment a leading role by asking it to capture an area in the vicinity of Beaumont Hamel, behind the German front line. On 1 July 1916, about 810 officers and men of the Newfoundland Regiment went over the top against the Germans.... Within minutes the regiment was nearly annihilated. Only two officers and 95 of the men of the regiment answered roll call the next day. Fifteen officers and 95 other men lay dead on the field, while 16 officers and 479 men were wounded. One officer and 114 soldiers were missing somewhere among the mud, blood, craters, spent shells and barbed wire. The attack was a military disaster.
"Almost everyone in St. John's lost a family member or friend at Beaumont Hamel.... The myth of Beaumont Hamel quickly emerged, 'emphasizing bravery, determination, imperial loyalty, Christian devotion, and immortal achievement' on the part of the Newfoundland Regiment."
St John Chadwick, Newfoundland: Island Into Province, Cambridge University Press, 1967, p. 126, gives slightly different numbers, but the distinction hardly matters:
"Of 5,482 [Newfoundland] men who went overseas, close on 1,500 were killed, 2,314 wounded and 234 decorated or mentioned in dispatches. The massacre at Beaumont Hamel remains, even today, a proud, sad memory to sacrifice. On 1 July 1916 753 Newfoundlanders went into action there. Next morning only 68 were left to answer the roll-call." - RBW
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