July 1 is Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador, a solemn day of remembrance of the single greatest disaster in Newfoundland history. At Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment was virtually wiped out in half an hour on the first morning of the Somme Offensive, July 1, 1916. Of the 780 men who went forward, 233 were dead, 386 wounded and 91 reported missing (later assumed dead) – a he casualty rate of 90%. All the officers were killed or wounded.
After the war, the Newfoundland government erected five Caribou Memorials at sites in France and Belgium where the (now) Royal Newfoundland Regiment fought. The Newfoundlanders with unknown graves are commemorated at the Beaumont-Hamel monument.
In 2009, the Newfoundland government added replica plaques near the Caribou Memorial in Bowring Park, St. John’s, to commemorate the men on their native soil. The centre plaque lists 591 from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Side plaques honour 115 from the Mercantile Marine and 114 from the Royal Naval Reserve.
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