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A Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site Partner Project. Created under contract to Canada’s Digital Collections, Industry Canada.


On October 4, 1914, an insufficiently trained and poorly equipped Newfoundland Regiment set sail on the SS Florizel for further training on England’s Salisbury Plain. This was the first of some 27 groups to embark from Newfoundland’s shores during the course of the war.

First Five Hundred on board the S.S. Florizel, at anchor in St. John’s, October 4, 1914.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL NA-1249), St. John’s, Newfoundland.
(24 Kb)

Being mistaken for Canadians often irritated the Newfoundlanders in England. In a letter home in December 1914, Private Frank ‘Mayo’ Lind commented that the English “did not seem to know that Newfoundland is not Canada, but they thoroughly understand now that Newfoundland is NOT Canada and that we are Newfoundlanders, NOT Canadians” (Lind 23). Lieutenant Owen Steele further remarked that Newfoundlanders were “very particular that [they] not be classed as Canadians . . .” and that they were “ much prouder of [their] distinction as Newfoundlanders” (Steele, “Letter to Parents, December 2, 1914”).

Concerns about mistaken identity marked an underlying fear of loss of separate status for the regiment, that it might be merged with another colonial regiment. Such fears were heightened during training in Britain when the imperial commanders suggested that they join a Nova Scotia battalion. This would have cost the regiment its status as an independent fighting group. Captain J. E. J. Fox later recalled that, “there was the fear that our identity would be lost with some Canadian unit . . . we felt, quite properly, that if we were to give our best, we could only do so by preserving our own individuality” (Fox 69–70).

Newfoundland Regiment soldiers receive rifles, n.d.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, Newfoundland.
(33 Kb)

No. 3 Platoon, A Company, Fort George, Scotland, ca. 1915.
Lt. R. H. Tait possibly in centre of the front row.

Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL B-3-18), St. John’s, Newfoundland.
(45 Kb)

This was resolved when, in December 1914, the regiment was sent to Fort George at Inverness, Scotland, and the Canadians were sent elsewhere. The regiment moved the next spring at Stobs Camp, at Hawick, southwest of Edinburgh. In August 1915, four companies moved to Aldershot before going overseas. The remaining companies moved to Ayr, which was to be the regimental depot for most of the war.