Introduction and Overview
The Great War, now usually known as the First World War, erupted in the summer of 1914 in
a Europe that had become divided and destabilized by a system of alliances. Germany and the
Austro-Hungarian Empire formed one such alliance (the Central Powers), while France, Russia
and Great Britain (the Allies) constituted another. On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared
war on Serbia. Because of the alliance system, the crisis could not be localized. The other powers
were rapidly drawn in, and by August 4 most of Europe was at war. In the months that followed, Italy
entered the war on the side of the Allies, and the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire on the side of the Central
Powers. The United States joined the Allies in April 1917.
When Great Britain declared war on Germany, it did so on behalf of the
entire British Empire. Even those parts of the empire, which possessed responsible
government and were in many ways independentlike Newfoundlandhad no choice
in the matter. So the decision which faced the Newfoundland government and people
in 1914 was not whether or not they should take part in the war, but what the nature
and extent of their participation should be.
Crowd being addressed in front of the Court House, St. Johns, ca. 1917.
Courtesy of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador (PANL F-52-14), St. Johns,
They entered the war willingly; but the grim experience of the four years which followed,
both at home and overseas, marked a watershed in the countrys history which is still
remembered and commemorated.
Based on glass plate images located in and provided by the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador
in St. Johns, supplemented with images from elsewhere, this site provides an introduction
to what was experienced by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador during the Great War. The main
sections deal with the home front, Newfoundlands participation
in the war, and the commemoration of the war after 1918.
In addition to the photos appearing in the Article section of our site, the Images section includes a
further and extensive collection of the Newfoundland Regiment photographs. This section can
be accessed by clicking on the Images tab in the side bar of any page.
The project was funded by Canadas Digital Collections program, Industry
Canada, sponsored by the Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives, and
executed by the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site team in the Faculty of
Arts at Memorial University of Newfoundland.