Kevin Major’s No Man’s Land is a story of the Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel in the Somme Offensive. The book was published in 1995. I chose it as my reading companion on a recent trip to Newfoundland.
It helps to understand the significance of Beaumont-Hamel in Newfoundland history to appreciate No Man’s Land. Newfoundland was still a small British colony. This was the first major battle in the war for the Newfoundland Regiment. (They had relatively few casualties at Gallipoli.) The 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). While the casualty rate for many battalions was over 50%, for the Newfoundland Regiment it was 90%. (Some reports say more went over the top, with a result of 85% casualties. But still …) All the officers were killed or wounded. On one of the bloodiest days of the war, only one other battalion had a higher casualty rate. July 1 remains a solemn day of remembrance of the single greatest disaster in Newfoundland history. Continue reading