A plaque in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador at 309 Duckworth St in St. John’s is dedicated in grateful memory of three members of the Law Society of Newfoundland.
Lawyer M. Frank Summers and student-at-law Cecil Bayly Clift were amongst the First Five Hundred in the Newfoundland Regiment, sailing across the Atlantic in October 1914 on the SS Florizel. Both served in Gallipoli, then moved to the Western Front.
Summers, a quartermaster, was wounded on 1 July 1916 at Beaumont Hamel and died on 16 Jul. Letters from comrades to his family said more than the formalities: “I always counted him as a personal friend, and I had a very great admiration for him both as a gentleman and as a soldier. I feel that the Regiment has suffered a very severe loss by his death.” “I had many opportunities of appreciating the efficient manner in which he carried out his difficult duties.”
Clift was 23 when he and his younger brother John enlisted. He escaped the 1 July slaughter of the Newfoundland Regiment, having been evacuated to hospital in April 1916. He returned in mid-July to a regiment regrouping and retraining. He was killed on 12 Oct 1916 at Gueudecourt.
Arthur J Herder had a checkered record. Born in St John’s, he studied law at Cambridge from 1902 to 1905, then returned home to practice. Around 1910, he moved to Western Canada. He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in Winnipeg in December 1914. In July 1915, he was dismissed from the CEF by general court martial, for drunkenness. In February 1916 he was taken on by the Newfoundland Regiment. He faced court martial again in July 1917, this time he was reprimanded. He died of wounds on 1 Dec 1917.
More recently, the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador recognized five students-at-law who suspended their studies to serve in the war effort but were killed or gave up their prospective legal careers as a result. Cecil Bayly Clift, John Clift, William Hutchings, Janet Morison Miller and Harris Rendell Oke were granted honorary degrees of barrister-at-law earlier this month.
Janet Miller? She was the first woman admitted to the law society as a student. But for the war, she likely would have been the first woman lawyer in Newfoundland. Instead she served as a VAD and was active in the women’s suffrage movement following the war. Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage tells her story.
Read about the other students on p 17 of the Spring 2016 edition of the Law Society Benchers’ Notes. The digitized records of all Newfoundland and Labrador soldiers are available on the provincial archives site.