This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme—a sobering day in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history—when nearly the entire Newfoundland Regiment was wiped out on the battlefield of Beaumont-Hamel.
The battle took place on July 1, 1916 and the province has since observed this as Memorial Day.
To commemorate the centennial, The Rooms—a provincial museum, art gallery, and archives—is set to open a permanent gallery of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Below are some of the artifacts the gallery will have on display beginning July 1.
Sable Chief, Royal Newfoundland Regiment Mascot
Sable was the mascot of the Regiment’s training reserve, 2nd Battalion, in 1917, and was a gift from Canadian Captain C.W. Firebrace and Sir Edgar Bowring. Unfortunately, Sable was killed in a truck accident in 1919.
The Women’s Patriotic Association (WPA) pin
The WPA was comprised of more than 15,000 women who volunteered their time to support the Allied forces and to boost morale at home in Newfoundland. They raised over $500,000, made and shipped clothing overseas, and volunteered in local hospitals.
The Newfoundland Regiment crest badge
The Newfoundland Regiment was formed under the identity of the caribou, a symbol of bravery with its head held high. At the time of the War, Newfoundland hadn’t joined confederation and The Regiment was formed as part of the British Army.
Wheelchair of Lance Corporal Albert Chaffey, Royal Newfoundland Regiment #2337
During the War, Lance Corporal Albert Chaffey was sent home to Musgravetown, N.L., in this wheel chair after losing his leg to a gunshot wound. Soon after he abandoned the chair and resorted to crutches, and also had his Model A Ford modified so he could drive it.
Bag of Sergeant Anthony James (Jim) Stacey, Newfoundland Regiment #466
This German bag was used by Jim Stacey, a battalion messenger who ran messages between officers and headquarters at Beaumont-Hamel. He carried orders to advance into No Man’s Land on July 1, 1916, possibly in this very bag.
Trail of the Caribou Stamps
These stamps were issued by the Newfoundland government after the War to commemorate the Regiment and Royal Naval Reserve, and to help raise funds for veterans and their families.