Edward Moyle Stick grew up in a family of five boys and two girls. His brothers, Leonard and James Robin Jr. both enlisted in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment on October 1st 1914.
In February 1915, Moyle Stick enlisted for one-year home service with the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in England. He served with the RAMC for 9 months before, in 1916, he joined the 1st Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Edward saw active duty until he was captured by Germans at Monchy le Prieur on April 14th 1917 (he was unwounded). During his active duty, he fought at Goudecourt.
Moyle Stick remained a Prisoner of War from his capture until he escaped on March 29th 1918. After his escape he returned to Newfoundland. It was determined that he be retained in the Army. Through a trial of contestation, he was discharged on June 6th 1918 because he was “an escaped prisoner of war”* and wished to continue his academic studies in the sciences.
Edward Moyle Stick served for 286 days.
In 1943, Moyle Stick became the Commanding Officer of the Newfoundland Regiment. Moyle Stick served in this position until the war ended and was the longest serving Commanding Officer.
Visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see Edward Moyle Stick’s collection. This includes a copy of his manuscript detailing his time as a Prisoner of War in World War One.
*The Rooms’ Edward Moyle Stick Collection: https://www.therooms.ca/stick-moyle-edward-moyle-j
Sergeant James Dunphy (#3364) was a fisherman and sailor from Tors Cove, Newfoundland. He enlisted on December 26th, 1916 and went on to serve with the 1st Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Having trained in England, he served in France from June 11th, 1917 to August 26th, 1917. During his service, Dunphy also fought on the front lines in Belgium at Ypres for 4 months in 1917.
In August 1917, James Dunphy sustained gunshot wounds to his left shoulder and right leg. He received medical attention for the rest of 1917, through to his discharge from the Regiment in 1919.
He left service in the rank of Sergeant.
On January 21st, 1919, Sergeant James Dunphy accompanied Thomas Ricketts (#3102) to York Cottage on King George V, Sandringham Estate for Ricketts’ private investiture of the Victoria Cross.
Visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see a portrait of James Dunphy on display.
Isabel May Simms served during the First World War. She enlisted in the Canadian Army Medical Corps, Canadian Expeditionary Force as the rank of nursing sister. During her service, Simms served in Canada, England and France with the C.A.M.C Depot.
She was discharged in 1919 due to “general demobilization” .
Come visit The Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see Isabel May Simms’ collection and the items of other nurses who served in the First World War on display.
Wheelchairs have evolved and developed since their iterations as early as 1300 BC, with the first American patent issued in 1869. Over their lifetime, wheelchairs became lighter and more manoeuvrable. Wheelchairs used in the First World War utilized the changes brought about by the aftermath of the American Civil War. This included: bicycle wheels (wire-spoked) and the wicker back, legs, and seat. Both alterations to the wheelchair enabled it to become lighter, more portable, easier to handle, and more versatile.
Visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see the First World War Wheelchair that belonged to Lt Col Walter Rendell on display.
This dressing packet was a standard part of a soldier’s. Much like its name suggests, It was meant to be used to dress a man’s wounds if a medical professional wasn’t close at hand.
Packs usually contained 1-2 dressings, with safety pins to fasten them.
Featured above are two first field dressing packets within the Royal Newfoundland Regiment’s collection (currently on display). The first (2009-074) was owned by Sgt. Thomas Hammond (#360), manufactured in London in 1916. The second, marked with an orange arrow, (2007-248) was produced in Montreal in 1941.
Love flourishes everywhere. Many soldiers encounter love while in service: be it leaving a girl back home or meeting someone while in active duty.
These salvers are one example of soldiers supporting each other in matters of the heart. Like the Arch of Sabres, an engraved silver salver was a common wedding gift for officers of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. It showed the marrying couple the support of their military friends and family. The museum has two such salvers in its collection, pictured below.
This silver salver (2007-162) was given to Captain Eric S. Ayre and Janet Miller (later Murray) at their wedding. Ayre’s fellow soldiers had their signatures engraved surrounding the Regimental caribou as a show of support for the union.
This second silver salver (2016-040E) was a gift to Lt. Col. A.L. Hadow and Mrs. Hadow for their marriage (April 1916) from the Officers of the Regiment. The officers’ signatures are engraved. Different from the previous platter, the dates of death or wounds are inscribed by the signatures. These were inscribed by Lt. Col. Hadow.
Visit the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Museum to see both silver salvers on display.
A day that became synonymous with remembrance, loyalty and sacrifice.
The plans for the “Great Push” came off the end of Gallipoli and the successful pushbacks of the Germans on Allied forces on both Eastern and Western fronts at the end of 1915. Originally, it was a co-operative offensive between the British and French armies to retake the Somme, breaking the streak and pushing the Allied forces one step towards victory. The plan was scheduled for around July 1st, 1916. However, an ill-timed major attack by the Germans on Verdun, France on February 21, 1916, caused the British to bear the brunt of supplying soldiers.
At this time, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was still serving with the 88th Brigade of the 29th Division. They received word of their involvement in the “Great Push” and travelled from Egypt to France. In the time leading up to Z-day, the Regiment trained vigorously. Simultaneously, German trenches were bombarded with artillery to weaken barbed wire and other obstructions in No Man’s Land. In the few days before, June 26th and 27th, the Newfoundland Regiment was involved in two German trench raids (see this post for more details on the raids).
It began on the morning of July 1st, 1916. First, they detonated the explosives laid beneath Hawthorn Ridge that had been placed over the past few weeks. The hope was the explosion and subsequent crater would enable their forces to more easily storm and capture the ridge. The timing of this detonation was of debate but they ultimately agreed upon 10 minutes before zero hour. This was a grave mistake. The explosion not only alerted the Germans, but the delay gave them time to reclaim the crater and get their heavy guns in place (namely, machine guns).
The first two waves of troops met the same fate: killed or wounded by intense enemy fire within minutes. Meanwhile, the Newfoundlanders remained in their trenches, waiting for their signal to proceed. Eventually it came but with a break away from the initial plan. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment was meant to attack alongside the Essex but were now ordered to move independently. Frost details in his memoir that Lt. Col. Hadow (in charge of the Newfoundlanders) “was a regular British Army Officer of many years’ service, and I suppose he held strictly to the rule that ‘in battle an order from a superior officer must be obeyed, regardless of the consequences”*.
As the men charged out of the trenches they were met only with German gunfire (before they moved past their own lines of barbed wire). With no allied forces to lay down suppressive fire and with the small sections of barbed wire cut, the Newfoundlanders were caught in a funnel. One of these points was by a battle-charred and bent tree. The ground around the tree quickly became ladened with the bodies of slaughtered Newfoundlanders trying to fulfil their orders. The tree itself became a symbol of this day and the sacrifice of the soldiers that died there. It became known as The Danger Tree.
The Battle of the Somme lasted months after July 1st. Although it was thought to be completed in a day, it did draw German forces away from Verdun and aid the French in their defence of the city. On the last day of battle in November, the British finally captured Beaumont-Hamel.
The Reason We Remember On This Day
The Royal Newfoundland Regiment participated in numerous battles across the First World War. All contained blood, loss, and sacrifice. Some ended in victory, however small.
July 1st was chosen for a day of Memorial because of the immensity of the tragedy that day was. It illustrates the horrors of war and the unyielding loyalty of the Newfoundlanders who fought.
When you honour those that died in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, remember those that fought at:
Beaumont-Hamel, France (Battle of the Somme)
Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey
Le Transloy, France
Monchy-le-Preux, France (First and Second Battle of the Scarpe)
Steenbeek, Belgium (Battle of Langemarck)
Broembeek, Belgium (Battle of Passchendaele – Battle of Poelcappelle)
Marcoing – Masnieres, France (Battle of Cambrai)
Bailleul – Armentieres, Belgium
Keiberg Ridge, Belgium
River Lys and Vichte, Belgium
What We Choose to Remember
The Valiant and the Forgotten
Those who most remember. Soldiers who went beyond, who took initiative, who put their lives at risk to save comrades, complete objectives, or simply get back home.
Remember these men. Remember those, too, that are unknown, without names and with forgotten identities.
When faced with danger and fear, it is human to put on a mask. To hide the anxiety below the surface and put on a veil of confidence. Many soldiers wrote and sent letters back home during the war. These letters kept communities and families connected. They let soldiers focus on things other than war or to share
An essential fact of being human is that, when faced with even the most dangerous scenario, you find humour. Humour is a major catharsis, a stress reliever. Private Francis T. Lind, also known as Mayo Lind, wrote letters that were published in the Daily Mail. In them, he described life at war. The following is a beautiful summary of what it is to be human, and in the face of regular danger. You find humour where you can, in the obscurity of the situation.
“I wish I could illustrate to you just what it is like, but I cannot. No pen could describe what it is like, how calmly one stands and faces death, jokes and laughs; everything is just an every day occurrence.You are mud covered, dry and caked, perhaps, but you look at the chap next to you and laugh at the state he is in; then you look down at your own clothes and then the other fellow laughs. Then a whizz bang comes across and misses both of you, and both laugh together.”***
Remember the soldiers as human. They laughed, cried, felt afraid, exhilarated, and were proud of their service.
Those Who Tried
When the First World War broke out, there was an expectation for all able-bodied men to sign-up to defend their country. Men would get harassed if thought to have avoided enlisting. It became bad enough, the military issued a pin to give to those who tried to enlist, to serve and defend their country, but didn’t meet the requirements (usually for medical reasons). These pins are symbols of the loyalty these men had, and the intense expectation that surrounded enlistment into the army. These pins continued into the Second World War. They became a staple to prove you showed up and tried.
Remember these men. Despite being turned away, they tried. They showed up, possibly knowing they would be denied, and demonstrated the call to arms. Remember these men.
When we talk about Memorial and Remembrance, it is often pointed at the soldiers, sailors, and flyers. Those that fought and faced the full force of harm. There are others. Nurses and doctors who volunteered not to fight, but to heal the injured. They witnessed the tragedy of war from a different side. Soldiers came in, wounded and dying. Nurses healed them, treated their wounds and their minds, then watched them leave and go back into harm’s way.
Remember these men and women. The healers who had to watch brave men come in and out on a revolving door. Who risked their lives so soldiers had a safe(r) place to retreat and become new (as new as they could become).
The Caribou is a symbol that has long been a symbolic representation of Newfoundland. Naturally, it became associated and served as a lasting symbol of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. When choosing a symbol for the Newfoundland memorials around the world, it was only fitting for it to be a Caribou. After the First World War, six statues were erected, each overlooking a battlefield fought on by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
Memorial Day is the anniversary of that tragic day at Beaumont-Hamel. But, like these Caribou statues, it is a day to memorialize and pay tribute to the actions and sacrifices of all Newfoundland and Labrador soldiers, sailors, and flyers, across the First and Second World Wars.
*Frost, Sydney. A Blue Puttee at War: The Memoir of Captain Sydney Frost, MC. Roberts, Edward (ed.) St. John’s: Flanker Press Limited, 2015, p. 192.
**Gogos, Frank. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War: A Guide to the Battlefields and Memorials of France, Belgium, and Gallipoli. St. John’s: Flanker Press Limited, 2015, p. 119.
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.
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.
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