Holiday in the Somme - Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial

At the end of October 2013 I went on holiday to the Somme region of France with my family.

We stayed in a gite in the quiet village of Carnoy.

While we were there we visited many sites associated with The Great War of 1914 - 1918.

 

Beaumont-Hamel Memorial Park was establish in memory of Newfoundlanders who fell in the First World War.

The Parkcovers an area of 84 acres.

The memorial itself stands at the highest point of the park and consists of a great caribou cast in bronze, emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. At the base, three tablets of bronze carry the names of over 800 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve and the Newfoundland Mercantile Marine, who gave their lives in the First World War and who have no known grave.
Beaumont-Hamel was attacked by the 29th Division on 1 July 1916 and although some units reached it, the village was not taken. It was finally captured by the 51st (Highland) and 63rd (Royal Naval) Divisions on the following 13 November.

The attack on Beaumont-Hamel in July 1916 was the first severe engagement of the regiment, and the most costly. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, no unit suffered heavier losses than the Newfoundland Regiment which had gone into action 801 strong. The roll call the next day revealed that the final figures were 233 killed or dead of wounds, 386 wounded, and 91 missing. Every officer who went forward in the Newfoundland attack was either killed or wounded. For this reason, the government of Newfoundland chose the hill south-west of the village, where the front-line trenches ran at the time of the battle, as the site of their memorial to the soldiers (and also to the sailors) of Newfoundland.

The memorial was designed by R.H.K. Cochius, with sculpture by Basil Gotto. It was unveiled by Earl Haig on 7 June 1925.

The remains of the trenches of both sides remain in the Park.


The "Danger Tree" is the twisted remains of a tree which marked the spot where casualities were heaviest on the first day of battle - 1 July 1916.


         

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