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Managing the
War Effort

Home Front

The Politics of War



at War



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


When Britain went to war on August 4, 1914, its far-flung empire, including Newfoundland, was drawn automatically into the conflict. Few Newfoundlanders would have questioned the colony’s obligations or the necessity of joining in the imperial war effort. In fact, the declaration of war was greeted with great enthusiasm. “;Those who reckon with England, must reckon with England’s sons!” blared a headline in the Daily News (3 Sept. 1914: 8).

The response was immediate. Britain’s most “ancient and loyal” colony was determined to do its part for “King and Country.” As soon as the government indicated its intention to raise troops for overseas service, hundreds of volunteers rushed to join, far more than was needed in the first instance. Even contemporaries were startled by the wave of patriotic fervour that swept over Newfoundland in these early days of the war. As Private A. J. Stacey of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment later recalled: “There was the singing of patriotic songs and flag waving, which seemed to whip up emotion as you had to volunteer.”

The crowd watches volunteers depart, ca. 1914.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL B3-3), St. John’s, Newfoundland.
(46 Kb)

King George, n.d.
Photo of King George with the Union Jack and the Newfoundland ensign, taken from a military death certificate.

Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John’s, Newfoundland.
(18 Kb)

The Image Gallery contains a Virtual Scrapbook based on a photo album held by the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador. This scrapbook is typical of many such albums created by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who followed with interest the exploits of their armed forces.

There are also video clips of the embarkation of a contingent showing the unbridled patriotism prevalent in the colony. It is not known when these scenes were photographed. Clip #7 depicts the crowds cheering the members of the regiment that was simply known as “Ours.” Clip #8 shows Newfoundland troops meeting their convoy outside St. John’s Harbour.