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Newfoundland Regiment





The Somme, 1916

Other Battles: 1916-1917

1918 - End of the War

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Other Battles: 1916–1917

Three months after the disastrous Beaumont Hamel attack the regiment was back in action. On October 12, 1916, in Gueudecourt, France, the Newfoundlanders captured the German “Hilt Trench” and inflicted massive casualties on the enemy. A war correspondent for the Newfoundland Quarterly stated that “Newfoundland had got her own back.” The remainder of 1916 was relatively quiet for the regiment, although in November they suffered another 20 casualties at Leboeufs.

Throughout its 1917 campaigns, the regiment earned a well-deserved reputation for self-sacrifice and tenacity in battle. Before the year was done Le Transloy, Arrras, Scarpe, Ypres, Langemarck, Poelcappelle, Cambrai, and Courtrai were added to the regiment’s list of battle honours.

From February 26 to March 3, 1917, the Newfoundlanders distinguished themselves by repelling a German advance at Sailly-Saillisel, France. This was followed a month later by the action at Monchy-Le-Preux. The major offensive occurred on April 14 when the 88th Brigade was to seize the enemy’s front lines. Losses to the regiment were second only to the losses at Beaumont Hamel—486 casualties, including 166 killed or mortally wounded. Another 150 became German prisoners, and 28 of these died in captivity.

Writing for the Catholic Cadet in August 1917, Padre Thomas Nangle stated that Newfoundland troops “were all that soldiers could be . . . On July 1, 1916, Newfoundlanders taught the world how to die. On October 12th [1916], they showed the world how they could fight, but on that dreadful day, Saturday, April 14, 1917, the men of the regiment combined the two” (Nangle 29).

Later in 1917, the regiment fought and earned the highest praise for its conduct in battles at Steenbeek, Langemarck, and Masnieres at the St. Quentin Canal. In December 1917, in recognition for their distinguished conduct in battle, and to aid the recruiting effort at home, the British bestowed the title “Royal” on the regiment. In the annals of British military history there are only two examples of such an honour being bestowed while a war was in progress. The Williamite Royal Regiment of Foot in Ireland, 1695, and the Princess Charlotte of Wales Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1885. In just over two years the regiment had evolved from an ill-equipped and under-trained group of civilians into a crack unit of the British Army.