Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Day to Celebrate...and to Remember

I have been MIA this week. It's hard to believe my last post was on Sunday and the week is nearly over. Fear not, Alan has been busy reading over the entries to the Land's Edge flash fiction contest. I met with the other judges last night and we have come up with a 'top 3' with many other fantastic stories nipping at their heels. I will be incommunicado (that's Spanish for "there's no damn computer in deez hacienda") for a couple of days but will post the names of the winners and honourable mentions on the blog either late Saturday or early Sunday. I will begin posting the stories starting on Monday July 5.


For the information of our American neighbours and British, Australian and other international friends, today is our Canada Day . July 1, formerly 'Dominion Day', celebrates the anniversary of the enactment of the British North America Act when the British colonies of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and a province of the British Empire were united into the single country of Canada in 1867. Sadly, I must work today but will get a day of in lieu tomorrow. My mind will be on my work...and it will be on those out celebrating today. My son has a cadet ceremony and parade to attend this morning. In part to celebrate Canada Day, but also to honour an occasion not well-known outside of Newfoundland and Labrador.

On July 1, 1916 the 1st Newfoundland Regiment, along with British and French troops, began the Battle of the Somme near the village of Beaumont-Hamel in France. It marked the first day of what would be four months of fighting. The final outcome, a movement forward of the front lines by 10km, would cost the British and their allies more than 650,000 either killed, wounded, missing or taken prisoner. The image above was borrowed from the Veterans Affairs Canada web site.

Etched into the memories and fibre of older Newfoundlanders are the loses sustained by the 1st Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel on the first day of action on July 1, 1916. These brave soldiers, nicknamed the "Blue Puttees" because of the colour of their leggings on their lower legs, left the trenches in the early morning. Of the 801 who went into battle, only 68 answered roll call the next morning. The count was 255 dead, 386 wounded and 91 missing. The numbers were staggering for the island dominion of Newfoundland with a population of about 240,000 (12,000 of whom enlisted in the war).

The commander of the 29th British Division said of the actions of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment:

"It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further."

Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends and best wishes to my American friends who will be celebrating their Independence Day this weekend.


David Barber said...

Don't work too hard, Alan, and enjoy you day off tomorrow. Looking forward to reading all the entries for your comp. Happy Canada Day!!

Cathy Olliffe said...

Interesting bit of history, Alan. You can always be counted on for englightenment. That must have been absolutely devastating. Sorry to hear you're working today. If it's any consolation, I have to work tomorrow.. while the rest of my family is camping. (i have to commute an hour and a half from Algonquin Park... not thrilled, I'll tell ya!) I hope your son's cadet ceremony goes well.
Happy Canada Day, bud! Hope it's a good one, work or no.

DEZMOND said...

the losses in WW1 and WW2 were really tragical. Serbia has lost more than million citizens in the first one and around the same number in the second one, which is a shocking number for the country with around 8 million people in total. In both of the wars Serbia was among the few countries which fought against Germans.

Karen from Mentor said...

Wow, I came over to see what silly thing you were up to and got a wonderful and sobering history lesson instead.

This part was especially poignant for me:
"..its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further."

A character in a Terry Pratchett disc world novel said that as a child he had always loved the idea of going to war and had pored over the famous paintings of glorious battle. Then when he was on the battlefield for the first time he was surprised to see that the painters had somehow inexplicably left out all of the intestines.

I wanted to round this off with a quip about no guts, no glory. But people dying for love of country is no laughing matter.

Happy Canada day sir.
Thank you for the reminder. And thanks to all of those who died for our freedom.
Karen :0)

Kat said...

That's cool! Happy Canada Day, Alan.

I'm playing catch-up with your blog today. :)

Laurita said...

Seems we are on the same page today, Alan. A very nice tribute, and a good reminder of an important part of our history.

Thanks again for asking me to help judge the contest. It was great fun. I hope the bruises heal quickly.

Enjoy your weekend!

K.Hinny said...

Have a Great Weekend Alan!!!

Michael Solender said...

A grand tribute and remembrance, well done!

kathryn said...

Lovely tribute to those who fought so bravely. You're like a walking encyclopedia, you know that?

FORCING people to learn.


Happy Holiday to us all!

Natalie L. Sin said...

Merry Canada Day!

katey said...

What a fabulous post, Alan-- thanks for the Newfoundland remembrance. Happy Canada Day, too!

Danielle Ferries said...

Happy Canada Day. Have a great weekend.

K.C. Shaw said...

Happy Canada Day (a bit late)! I hope you're enjoying your day off and have a great weekend.

That bit of history about Newfoundland was fascinating, something I'd never have learned if I hadn't read your blog. I love the internet.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Thanks all for the kind comments.

As Dezmond noted, there were shocking loses in certain countries about Europe during the wars. Thanks for the reminder, sir.