Nfld. & Labrador

102 years later, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians still remember fallen soldiers at Beaumont-Hamel

It's been over a century since Newfoundland and Labrador lost a generation of young men at the battle of Beaumont-Hamel, and the province has never stopped remembering their sacrifice.

Memorial Day service held at National War Memorial in St. John's

Participants in the Memorial Day Parade make their way down Duckworth Street on Sunday. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

It's been over a century since Newfoundland and Labrador lost a generation of young men in the battle of Beaumont-Hamel, and the province has never stopped remembering their sacrifice.

While the rest of the country began celebrating Canada Day at sunrise on Sunday, many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians spent their morning marking Memorial Day, paying their respects to the fallen members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

A large crowd gathered at the National War Memorial in St. John's, and onlookers watched a parade that spanned from the Sergeants' Memorial and Peacekeepers Memorial on Queens Road to Water Street. 

A choir performs at the Memorial Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in St. John's. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Newcomers learn about sacrifice

Some newcomers to the city also took in the service, taking the time to learn about local customs, and the tragic events of July 1, 1916. 

Ontario's John and Edna Kerrigan hadn't heard of the slaughter at Beaumont Hamel until visiting Newfoundland for the first time this past month. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Two of those people were John and Edna Kerrigan, visiting from Alvinston, On. 

"The memorial service was something added that we had no idea took place in Newfoundland," said Kerrigan.

"For that to have gone on for 102 years, we're remembering history, and it's good that Newfoundland does remember the history."

Raja Saleem and Nargis Sultene, of Pakistan, were in St. John's visiting their son Waqas Raja

"Canada is really safe and very good nation because I saw today that every person was wanting to celebrate and helping each other," said Saleem.

"I salute to all Canadians, God help you, and you live healthy and safe."

Raja Saleem (third from left) and his wife Nargis Sultene, of Pakistan, were in St. John's visiting their son Waqas Raja (far right). They are with friends from Bangladesh. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Raja has been in Newfoundland for a year and a half, and he welcomed the opportunity to celebrate Canada and learn more about his new home province.

"It's my first experience to see the parade, as well as to spend some time with the Canadian army," said Raja. 

"I listened to all the speech of different people here, and I figured out that they spend lots of lives for us, and we are alive because they spend their lives for us."

A new plaque commemorating military chaplain Thomas Nangle was unveiled on Sunday. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Sunday's ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a memorial plaque in honour of military chaplain Thomas Nangle, who worked to ensure that the Regiment soldiers were remembered, and helped spearhead the trail of the caribou.

Those in attendance included Veterans Affairs Minister Seamus O'Regan, St. John's West MHA  Siobhan Coady, and St. John's Mayor Danny Breen.

Lt. Gov Judy Foote, who is visiting the Beaumont-Hamel site, was represented at the event by new Chief Justice Deborah Fry.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador