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Webmatters : Newfoundland Memorial, Beaumont Hamel
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Newfoundland Memorial, Beaumont Hamel

Location

Beaumont-Hamel Memorial Park, situated 9 kilometres directly north of the town of Albert, was establish in memory of Newfoundlanders who fell in the First World War.

Using the D919 from Arras to Amiens you will drive through the villages of Bucquoy, Puisieux then Serre Les Puisieux (approximately 20 kilometres south of Arras). On leaving Serre Les Puisieux, 3 kilometres further along the D919, turn left following the signs for Auchonvillers. At the crossroads in the village centre follow the signs for ‘Newfoundland Park, Beaumont Hamel’.

GPS N E Wikimapia
Decimal 50.073840 2.648242 Map

The Caribou at Beaumont-Hamel

 

Historical Information

Beaumont-Hamel was attacked by the 29th Division on 1st 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 13th November.

The 29th Division included the 1st Battalion of the Newfoundland Regiment, as it was then called. 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.

Of the few battlefield parks in France and Belgium where the visitor can see a Great War battlefield much as it was, Beaumont Hamel is the largest. The actual trenches are still there and something of the terrible problem of advancing over such country can be appreciated by the visitor.

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.

Do not forget that Newfoundland — Britain’s oldest colony — did not become part of Canada until after the Second World War on 31st March 1949. This is why their graves carry a Caribou and not the Maple Leaf.

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.

Erroneously included on the memorial is the name of W. Pilgrim who survived the war and whose details will not appear within the C.W.G.C. records.

The memorial was designed by R.H.K. Cochius, the caribou sculptures (on all the Newfoundland Memorials) are by Basil Gotto — an Englishman.

The memorial was unveiled by Earl Haig on 7th June 1925.

Newfoundland Memorial to the Missing

Newfoundland Memorial to the Missing

 

Family Members

Two brothers who died on the 14th April 1917 at Monchy le Preux, Arras (Where another Caribou stands in honour of the regiment) are mentioned on these panels

  • Lance Corporal Hector Bennett 910 aged 20
  • Lance Corporal William Bennett 1071 aged 22

Sons of Luke and Josephine Bennett, of Regent St, North Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

  • 2nd Lieutenant Gerald Ayre was one of four members of this family to perish during the war.

Son of Frederick and Mary Ayre, of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Died on 1st July 1916 aged 25.

 

Other cemeteries in the area

Within the Park are three British Cemeteries (those of Hawthorn Ridge No. 2, “Y” Ravine and Hunter’s) and two other Battle Memorials (those of the 51st (Highland) and the 29th Divisions).


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

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