Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

July 01, 2011 10:00 ET

Minister of National Defence Statement on the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 1, 2011) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement on the anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel:

"It's a day that still weighs heavily on a Newfoundlander's heart; July 1, 1916, and the decimation of the Newfoundland Regiment during the ill-fated Somme offensive, at a small French town called Beaumont-Hamel.

Few battles have been so meticulously planned as "the Big Push" at the Somme. Yet, German lines at Beaumont-Hamel were able to withstand a week-long artillery barrage, and on the morning of July 1, the enemy was prepared for an attack.

As they moved towards No Man's Land, a withering cross-fire cut mowed down the men of the Newfoundland Regiment in waves. Most were struck down before they crossed their own front line. Those who reached the German position found the enemy's barbed wire intact, their position not softened by the previous week of shelling.

In less than 30 minutes, the regiment had been virtually wiped out, with 710 killed, wounded or missing. Only 68 men were able to show up for roll call on July 2. The people of Newfoundland were left devastated, and have carried a sense of loss for their missing and dead to this day.

On this Memorial Day, I and the men and women of the Canadian Forces remember with you the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel and its everlasting effect on the people and culture of Newfoundland and Labrador."

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