About the Battle of Beaumont Hamel:
The opening day of the Battle of the Somme was a slaughter for the Allies, and the 1st Newfoundland Regiment was virtually annihilated at the Battle of Beaumont Hamel. In Newfoundland and Labrador, July 1 is Memorial Day to commemorate Newfoundland's heavy losses in the Battle of Beaumont Hamel.
Date of Battle:
July 1, 1916
Location of Battle:
Beaumont Hamel, France
1st Newfoundland Regiment, one of the four battalions of the British 29th Division's 88th Brigade.
Battle of Beaumont Hamel Casualties:
- 733 of 801 men in the 1st Newfoundland Regiment were killed or wounded.
- Total Allied casualties on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme were 57,470, of which 19,240 were fatal.
Battle of Beaumont Hamel Summary:
- The "Big Push" was a mainly British offensive on the Somme in France. The plan was to break the German defences and clear a path for the cavalry through to the English Channel.
- The Newfoundlanders were assigned, with a battalion from the Essex Regiment, to take the third enemy line, by which time it was expected there would be little opposition.
- The Germans not only knew of the planned assault however, but the earlier Allied siege to weaken their defences had also missed many of its targets.
- At 2 am July 1, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment completed a five-hour march to the trenches.
- At 8:45 am the Newfoundlanders were ordered in to support the 87th Brigade.
- The Essex Regiment was delayed by clogged trenches and the Newfoundlanders had to cross 900 metres (over half a mile) of exposed front alone, in broad daylight. No Allied artillery fire covered them.
- Few made it even as far as the Allied barbed wire, and those who did were expected to move in parade-ground formations through zig zag lanes that had been cut in the wire.
- The men who made it to No Man's Land could see across another 500 metres (547 yards) of exposed slopes to the German first line of defence.
- The Battle of Beaumont Hamel was over for the Newfoundlanders in less than half an hour.