Corporal/Bombardier James “Jim” Steele

It is with regret that we announce the passing of another one of ours. A true gentleman and soldier. 

James “Jim” Steele came from a family of servicemen (his father James and uncle Owen served with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the First World War). Jim joined the Newfoundland Regiment in October 1943 at the age of 19. He completed his basic training at Shamrock Field in St. John’s before being posted to an artillery draft.

In May 1944 he and other volunteers went overseas to Liverpool, England. They trained in the north of England and Cromer before being posted to the 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment Royal Artillery in Norwich. Corporal/Bombardier Jim Steele eventually caught up with the Regiment just outside of Hamberg, Germany. There, he was put in charge of a police station where he dealt with prisoners and displaced persons. 

Watch the Kicker interview with Jim Steele:

He was described in his service testimonial as “a very good type of man who could be relied upon. Honest and temperate in his habits.”

Stand down soldier, your duty is done.

*photo taken from the Kicker interview video

Hadow’s Maps

Leading up to “Z-Day”, the Great Push, several raids were conducted on German trenches. The objective: to capture German prisoners for information/identification. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment participated in two of the eight raids that occurred. 

The first, was June 26th; a Monday. With the artillery bombardment on German trenches leading up to the Great Push, the raiding parties had limited time to enter the chosen trench and meet their objective. They immediately ran into issues when trying to get through the barbed wire. It wasn’t as damaged as they thought from the artillery and all attempts to get through the wire failed. Soon the German troops were alerted and began firing on the raiding party. The Newfoundlanders withdrew.

The second raid was the following night, Tuesday the 27th of June. They changed the firing path of the artillery to give the parties no time limit to accomplish their objective. However, they were met by a trench full of enemies and engaged in a 25 minutes conflict with the enemy. In this conflict, 4 Newfoundlanders were killed, 21 wounded, and 3 were missing (with 2/3 having been taken captive by the Germans). Pte. George Philips is credited as having bayoneted 2 Germans during this conflict. He returned the next morning after being out all night and was covered in blood. Mostly the blood of others.

Although the objective was not met (they had no German prisoners), the second raid showed that the location of attack during Z-day was “well fortified and held in great strength”.

To prepare for these raids, and for the Great Push itself, trench maps were used: hand-drawn maps created using aerial photographs for reference. Officers would write and draw on such maps. The aerial photographs were those taken of “Y” Ravine” by the Royal Flying Corps. They showed how the Germans used the landscape. Everyone involved in the raids studied the aerial photographs to familiarize themselves with the routes they needed to take in the dark. 

Both the maps and photographs were consulted, written on, and studied by the British and Newfoundlanders before the Great Push. Pictured above are maps and photographs thought to have belonged Captain Hadow. The hand-drawn maps may have been used by Captain Hadow but are more likely duplicates he kept (based on their condition).

Come visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see maps used during the First World War.

Pte. James Patrick Joe #1630


James Patrick Joe was a Mi’kmaq from Conne River. He enlisted June 15, 1915 at the age of 21. Pte. Joe went on to serve at Beaumont Hamel where he was wounded, and again wounded on September 6th, 1916. He served until he was demobilized June 6th, 1919. 

Pte. James Patrick Joe passed away in Kitchener, Ontario in January 1969.

Come visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see Pte. James Patrick Joe’s medals 

Gunner (Reverend) Wesley Oake

Gunner (and later Reverend) Wesley Oake was born and grew up in Beaumont, Notre Dame Bay. He joined the Regiment in 1941: spending a year in the militia and then joining the 166th Newfoundland Field Regiment. Gunner Oake saw active duty in England and Italy (Naples and Casino). 

After the Second World War Gunner Oake followed a spiritual call and became a minister for the United Church of Canada.

Pictured above is the sermon (2019-086P) Reverend Oake gave at the 61st Reunion Service for the 166th Field Regiment on September 8th, 2002. 

Coming soon to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum Website and YouTube is a video of the full interview with Reverend Wesley Oake. Below is a clip from the interview.

166th NFLD Field Regiment, R.A. Flag


The main flag of the 166th Newfoundland Field Regiment, R.A. The crest is that of the Royal Artillery. 

The two mottos on the flag are: 

Ubique = “Everywhere”

Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt = “Where Right and Glory Lead”. 

The flag pictured above is the second flag of the 166th. The flag in the museum’s collection was blessed by the Roman Catholic Basilica in St. John’s on the 50th Anniversary of the First 400 going overseas. It was used in the Parade, carried by Leo Knox.

Come visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see this flag and others on display.

Faith Carried With You


Every soldier brought something with them from home, whether a token from family, community, or faith. These had to be small, something to fit in a pocket, a bag, or around their neck. Items like this were symbols of why they fought, and what gave them the drive to keep fighting. They sought solace and comfort in these reminders of home and community, something bigger than themselves.

For Pte. John Joseph Peddell (#705), some of the tokens he brought were of his faith. One was his rosary beads: black beads with a silver chain and crucifix. The second was a small, black leather case that held a crucifix, prayers, and identification/instructions in case of death. The third is a small religious icon of Madonna and Child. The figures are made of brass and are held within a two piece brass case. All three are the perfect size so Peddle could bring them with him wherever he went while serving in the Regiment. 

Come visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see other tokens and items carried by soldiers from the Regiment, including Peddle’s Rosary Beads, Prayer Book, and Icon.

Lt. Col. Arthur Burgess


Arthur Burgess was born on June 12th, 1895 and raised in Baine Harbour, Newfoundland. He was the fourth son of James Edward and Lydia Burgess. The family owned a business called Baine Harbour Packing Company. 

In 1916, at the age of 21 and caught up in the fervour of the First World War commencing two years earlier, Arthur decided to join the Newfoundland Regiment. Arthur was in the field on several fronts in 1917, including Arras. Over the course of his service during the war, he rose through the ranks from Lance Corporal to Second Lieutenant. Upon the end of the First World War, Burgess was in Officer Training School. 

By the time he returned home at the end of the First World War, most of his family was dead except his sister, Laura. He eventually married Gertrude DeWolfe, despite the friction caused by their different faiths (he was of the Church of England, Gertrude’s family were strict Catholics). 

Arthur served in the “Vet’s Guard” during the Second World War. He had various detachments to look after prisoners of war sent back to Canada for internment. At these camps, Arthur was Officer Commanding. He was eventually sent on special assignment which saw him loaned to 21 Army Group (a British element under the command of General Montgomery). 

He was placed in charge of the coal mines in Belgium upon its liberation. Arthur worked to defend these places from German counterattack. He was involved in the liberation of Holland. His work in Belgium saw him taken from 21 Army Group in 1945 and placed with the American 9th Army. Arthur’s job was to take over all German coal mines and associated industries once captured and get the mines producing as soon as possible. 

During this time, Arthur arrested Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach (often referred to as Alfried Krupp) who was later charged with war crimes for using slave labor from concentration camps at his family’s steelwork company, Fried. Krupp. Started by Friedrich Krupp, it expanded to “become one of the most important industrial enterprises of the nineteenth century”*. During the Second World War, it was a key weapons and material supplier to the German Government. Arthur Burgess also set up his headquarters in the Krupp mansion in Essen, Villa Hugel, and took control of the Krupp factories. The mansion was originally built by Alfried’s predecessor, Alfred Krupp, between 1870-1873. 

Arthur Burgess was discharged from the Canadian Military in May 1946 when he accepted a contract with the Coal Commission for Germany as Chief Controller of Production. He retired from the army as a Colonel. 

During his service, Arthur received the following medals and decorations:

  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • 1939-1945 Star
  • France & Germany Star
  • Defence medal
  • Canadian Volunteer Service Medal & Clasp
  • General Service Medal
  • Order of the Crown of Belgium

Come visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see Burgess’ Funeral Pall and Dog Tags. 

*Villa Huegel

Ceremonial Swords


Ceremonial swords symbolize authority and power. They are worn with dress uniforms at special events or ceremonies; a military wedding is one such example. 

Over time, there has been a change in what these swords are crafted with. Today, ceremonial swords are made using precious metals which makes them significantly less effective in actual combat (not much of an issue since they are only used for ceremony and symbol). Previously, there was no distinction between ceremonial and practical. A soldier typically had one sword which he used in both combat and ceremony. Thus, earlier swords tended to be made of steel or other sturdier metals. 

The one pictured above was donated to the museum by the family of Col. Sir Leonard Outerbridge (first Honorary Colonel of the newly established Regiment, 1949). It is a steel ceremonial sword with a leather bound steel scabbard. This sword was manufactured by Mander & Allenders in Liverpool, England.  

Come visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see Sir Leonard Outerbridge’s ceremonial sword, and others like it, on display. 

German “Sawtooth” Mauser Rifle Bayonet


While many bayonets were issued during the First World War, one of the more brutal ones is the S98/05, nicknamed the “Sawtooth” or “Sawback” because of its serrated side. Two versions of this bayonet were created: one with the serrated backside and one without. The Sawtooth was designed as a tool to clear brush and barbed wire, characteristics of no-man’s land in the First World War.

The wounds created by the serrated side were so violent that British and French soldiers would execute any German soldier found with a Sawtooth on them. This led to the eventual recall of this bayonet by the German military, who filed the teeth down before reissuing them.  

Come visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see the Sawtooth brought home by Captain Eric Chafe. You can find it in the front case, in our temporary exhibit on Captain Chafe.


Mug and Utensils


Utensils and mug belonging to Cpl. Walter L. Thistle #215 during his time as a POW in the POW Camp in Grosborn, Prussia (now Poland) in 1918.


Thistle created the mug from C & E Morton tin which housed either cocoa or jam. It is engraved with his name and the date of his capture: December 3rd, 1917 (at the Battle of Cambrai). Additionally, the mug has the Regimental Caribou insignia.

The Spoon, Knife, and Fork were used by Thistle during his time as a POW of the Germans. The fork has no identifying features except for a decorative design along the handle, in particular the deer/stag at the handle’s base.The spoon is a silver plated nickel with an ID engraved into the back of the handle. The knife has the imprint of “Bester Stahl Solingen”. This is a manufacturer’s mark as it was made in Solingen, Germany. Solingen is also known as the “City of Blades” and has long been renowned for makers of fine swords, knives, scissors, and razors.

Postcard, depicting a group of Prisoners of War at Schneidemuhl, Germany. L-R: Walter Thistle, Newfoundland Regiment (St. John’s), Gervais (French Army), Arthur Harlet (Rouen, France), unknown, Joseph Babstock, Newfoundland Regiment (Eastport). (ACC#2007-45)