Ottawa, ON – On the morning of 1 July 1916, Allied troops began their advance toward German positions to open one of the First World War’s most significant campaigns, the Battle of the Somme. By that night, more than 57,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers had been killed, wounded, or declared missing – the heaviest losses ever suffered by the British Army in a single day.
Near the village of Beaumont-Hamel in northern France, the Newfoundland Regiment went into action in an attack that would turn out to be catastrophic. In less than half an hour, the Regiment was practically decimated. Of the 800 or so Newfoundlanders who went over the top that morning, just 68 were able to answer the roll call the next day.
The Canadian Corps would also see heavy fighting later in the Battle of the Somme. They would achieve an impressive victory at Courcelette on 15 September 1916, and continued to push forward in additional assaults before the campaign finally came to an end in mid-November. The toll taken was staggering—more than 24,000 Canadians were killed or wounded.
Now 105 years later, Canadians are invited to remember those who served and gave their lives at Beaumont-Hamel and throughout the Battle of the Somme.
“The sheer scale of losses suffered at Beaumont-Hamel on 1 July is hard to comprehend. That day touched nearly every family in Newfoundland, and more than a century later, we still look to it as a reminder of the awful cost of war. We remember the men of the Newfoundland Regiment who gave their lives that morning, and pay tribute to the thousands of Canadians and Newfoundlanders who fought and died throughout the Battle of the Somme.”
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
“One hundred and five years ago, members of the Canadian Corps and the Newfoundland Regiment bravely served in two of the most arduous battles of the First World War. Today, we remember their courage, and the ultimate sacrifice so many made at the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. We honour their unfaltering commitment to our values, which secured for us the peace and freedom that we have today.”
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence