A small business in Corner Brook has quite a bit of history on its premises about the Royal Newfoundland Regiment — including its tragic involvement in one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War.
Dave LeDrew, owner of the Newfoundland Emporium on Broadway Street in downtown Corner Brook, has assembled a large number of items over the years. They include photographs, Regimental coat buttons, a Morse code transmitter and a bayonet.
One of the photos has been in the Newfoundland Emporium long enough that LeDrew is not sure where or when he came to own it.
The subject of the bronze-framed photo is a mystery, but LeDrew insists the gentleman in the picture is a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
"Unfortunately, for a lot of people, these things pass on from family to family, and quite often they don't know who it is [in the picture] because there's no name on it and nothing written on the back," LeDrew said.
LeDrew has also collected some khaki-coloured puttees. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment got their alternate name — the Blue Puttees — when there wasn't enough khaki-coloured material to make enough standard puttees — so the lower-leg cuffs were created out of mostly blue fabric and material.
July 1 marks the 97th year since Regiment soldiers ran across the field in Beaumont Hamel, where only a handful of the 801 Newfoundland soldiers were able to stand for roll call the morning after the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.
LeDrew said those who fought and died at Beaumont Hamel were among the province's bravest.
"That was a big sacrifice on our part as a nation, at the time. All these guys — these hundreds and hundreds of guys who died — were the best we had, and … imagine the contribution these guys could have made," he said.
LeDrew said at last count, his shop had 16,555 items. Everything from wool socks and trigger mitts to bone and antler-carved aboriginal figures and thousands of books — each piece connected to Newfoundland and Labrador.