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The Great War

July 1st marked the 90th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel of World War I, in which both Canadian and Newfoundland soldiers died.


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This July 1st not only marked the 139th birthday of the country (Canada was established in 1867), but also the 90th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel of World War I, in which both Canadian and Newfoundland soldiers died.

It was commemorated at a special ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, in which Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Governor General Michaëlle Jean, and Alice Murphy, 2006 Silver Cross Mother, attended and laid wreaths. Representatives from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the Newfoundland & Labrador Royal Canadian Legion were also present.

During the four years (1914-1918) that The Great War (World War I) raged, the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) fought in France and Belgium in battles at Ypres, Passchendaele, the Somme, Hill 70, Mount Sorrel, and Vimy Ridge. The Canadians secured Mons in Belgium on November 11, 1918, ending the war.

More than 24,000 Canadians and 700 Newfoundlanders* were killed, wounded, or went missing in the Somme Region of France in 1916.

As the Department of Veteran Affairs says on its website "They fulfilled their duty against overwhelming odds. Their unbreakable spirit, unwavering courage and selfless sacrifice so many years ago continues to have a profound influence on our Canadian way of life."

For those who could not attend the ceremony, there are three great Canadian websites to visit, and they are: the Canadian Great War Project; Canada and the First World War; and the Newfoundland and the Great War website

The Canadian Great War Project is a great website because it contains over 70,000 entries of individuals which you can search - free of charge - although if you wish to update information, you must register, but it is also free.

The project wishes—by having this website feature war diaries and attestation papers (signing papers), for example—to promote interest in World War I.

The Library and Archives Canada website has over 800,000 images from the 600,000 Attestation Papers which are available online, plus wartime dairies.

The Newfoundland and Great War website explains the role that Newfoundland and Labrador played in the Great War, and that it is still remembered and commemorated. Photographs include those from the Newfoundland Regiment.

There is a Newfoundland Book of Remembrance at the Peace Tower in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa which lists those who died in Gallipoli and Beaumont-Hamel. The book is also online at

Canada has 18,000+ graves in Europe, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has just released a history of the Battle of Somme.

Log into their online search engine to see the Canadian war dead of the First World War.

*Newfoundland did not become part of Canada until 1949. Previous to that, it was a colony of Great Britain.

Source Information: Canadian Connections, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2006.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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