Royal Newfoundland Regiment

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"Blue Puttees" redirects here. For the ferry, see MV Blue Puttees.
Royal Newfoundland Regiment
R nfld R badge.jpg
The badge of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
Active 1949–present
Country  Canada
Branch Reserve
Type Line Infantry
Role Light Infantry
Size Three battalions
Part of Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
Garrison/HQ RHQ - St. John's
1st Battalion - St. John's
2nd Battalion - HQ and B COY Grand Falls-Windsor
A COY - Corner Brook
C COY - Stephenville
Nickname(s) The Blue Puttees
Motto(s) Better than the Best
March Quick - The Banks of Newfoundland
Slow - The Garb of Old Gaul
Anniversaries ANZAC Day - 25 April
Memorial Day - 1 July
Commanders
Current
commander
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Furlong
Colonel-in-Chief HRH The Princess Royal

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment (R NFLD R) is a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Army. It is part of the 5th Canadian Division's 37 Canadian Brigade Group.

Predecessor units trace their origins to 1795, and since 1949 Royal Newfoundland Regiment has been a unit of the Canadian Army. During the First World War the battalion-sized regiment was the only North American unit to fight in the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. Later in the war the regiment was virtually wiped out at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Since then July 1 has been marked as Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Lineage[edit]

The government of Canada doesn't officially recognize the Royal Newfoundland Regiment's attachment to earlier units as there were breaks in existence but recognizes that it claims to inherit the traditions of early regiments.

Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot[edit]

  • Originated 25 April 1795 when Captain Thomas Skinner of the Royal Engineers was given permission to raise a fencible infantry company consisting of six hundred men.
  • Disbanded March 1802 following the signing of the Treaty of Amiens

Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry[edit]

  • In June 1803, Brigadier-General John Skerrett founds the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry.

Royal Newfoundland Companies[edit]

  • 1824, the Royal Veteran Companies arrived in St.John
  • Redesignated 1842, the Royal Veteran Companies are renamed the Royal Newfoundland Companies
  • Amalgamated in 1862, the Royal Newfoundland Companies were absorbed into the Royal Canadian Rifle Regiment

Royal Newfoundland Regiment 1914–1919[edit]

  • On 4 September 1914, the Legislative Assembly of Newfoundland passed an Act authorizing the formation of the Newfoundland Regiment.
  • 25 January 1918, the regiment is renamed Royal Newfoundland Regiment
  • Disbanded on 26 August 1919

Royal Newfoundland Regiment[edit]

  • Originated 24 October 1949 in St.John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, as The Newfoundland Regiment, RCIC
  • Redesignated 14 December 1949 as Royal Newfoundland Regiment, RCIC
  • Amalgamated 1 March 1961 with the 166th (Newfoundland) Field Artillery Regiment, RCA and redesignated as Royal Newfoundland Regiment
  • Reorganized 28 March 1974 as a two battalion regiment, consisting of the 1st Battalion with D, E and F companies and the 2nd Battalion with A and B companies[1]

166th (Newfoundland) Field Artillery Regiment, RCA[edit]

  • Originated 24 October 1949 in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, on 24 October 1949, as the 166th (Newfoundland) Field Regiment, RCA
  • Redesignated 12 April 1960 as the 166th (Newfoundland) Field Artillery Regiment, RCA
  • Amalgamated 1 March 1961 with Royal Newfoundland Regiment, RCIC[1]

Battle honours[edit]

The regimental colour of 1st Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment

In the list below, battle honours in small capitals are for large operations and campaigns and those in lowercase are for more specific battles. Bold type indicates honours authorized to be emblazoned on regimental colours[1]

War of 1812
  • Defence of Canada – 1812–1815 – Défense du Canada
  • Detroit
  • Maumee

All three honours were awarded in commemoration of the Royal Newfoundland Fencible Infantry [1] and are emblazoned on the colours of the regiment's 2nd battalion.

First World War

Predecessor units[edit]

A Newfoundland regiment was first founded, to serve in the British Army, in 1795 when Major Thomas Skinner of the Royal Engineers stationed in St. John's at Fort Townshend, was ordered to raise a regiment. It was disbanded and refounded several times under different names, including His Majesty's Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot, The Royal Newfoundland Veterans Companies and The Royal Newfoundland Companies.[2] He was assisted in this by fairly large detachment, successively under command of Capt. Maclean, Capt. Aldridge, and Lt. Van Cortlandt, of the Royal Nova Scotia Regiment, which returned to its home colony in November of that year.

War of 1812[edit]

Reenactors dressed in uniform used during 1795 at Signal Hill

The regiment, called at the time the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry, was significantly involved in the War of 1812. In May 1812, weeks before outbreak of the war with the United States, Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, commander of his Majesty’s Forces in Upper Canada, deployed the regiment into smaller companies or detachments, combined with other units or regiments in defensive positions all over the province. Some were employed as marines on board naval vessels on the Great Lakes as part of His Majesty's Provincial Marine.

Battles in which elements of the regiment took part included: Skirmish at Canard River July 16, 1812, Battle of Detroit Aug 16 1812, Battle of the River Raisin or Frenchtown, Michigan January 22, 1813, the British raid on Ogdensburg, New York February 22, 1813, the Battle of York (Toronto) April 27, 1813 and operations in northwest Ohio, including the Battle of Maumee in the spring of 1813, the Battle of Fort George (Niagara-on-the-Lake) May 25–27, 1813. The regiment was also involved in the British Raid on Sacket's Harbour NY. May 29, 1813 and provided soldiers who served as marines in the Battle of Lake Erie September 10, 1813. The regiment's service continued at the Battle of the Thames or Moraviantown October 5, 1813 and in northern Michigan at the Battle of Michilimackinac or Mackinac Island August 4, 1814 and as part of the capture of American naval vessels Tigress September 3, 1814 and Scorpion on Upper Lake Huron on September 6, 1814.

It was largely distributed throughout the zone as attached sub-units and not as a formed battalion and was disbanded in 1816. A monument depicting a toy soldier of the 1813 Royal Newfoundland Regiment standing over a fallen American toy soldier was unveiled in Toronto in November 2008.[3] The War of 1812 Monument in Ottawa, which is situated across from the National War Memorial, also features a soldier of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment - one of seven bronze figures which stands on top of that monument.

In 2012, on the occasion of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the Government of Canada, responding to recommendations made by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council and similar recommendations made by an advisory committee to the Minister of Canadian Heritage for the War of 1812, awarded the Royal Newfoundland Regiment three battle honours. These were for the victory at Detroit in 1812, for the regiment's role at the battle of Maumee in 1813 and a general "theatre honour" ("Defence of Canada 1812-1815"), for the regiment's broader service in successful engagements throughout the War of 1812. Colours emblazoned with these battle honours were presented to the regiment's 2nd battalion in the presence of their Colonel-in-Chief, HRH the Princess Royal, in June 2016.[4] The ceremonies coincided with events marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel.[5]

Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the First World War[edit]

Outbreak of war[edit]

A soldier in uniform sitting on a camel posed in front of the Great Sphinx of Giza
Dr Cluny MacPherson of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in Egypt, September 1915

During the First World War Newfoundland was a largely rural Dominion of the British Empire with a population of 240,000 people, and not yet part of Canada.[6] The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 led the Government of Newfoundland to recruit a force for service with the British Army.[7] Even though the island had not possessed any formal military organization since 1870, enough men soon volunteered that a whole battalion was formed, and later maintained throughout the war.[8] The first recruits in the regiment were nicknamed the "Blue Puttees" due to the unusual colour of the puttees, chosen to give the Newfoundland Regiment a unique look, but quickly abandoned when the 1st five-hundred reached England in October 1914.[9] The headquarters for recruiting and training was also supplied by the CLB, as was the nucleus of the command structure. In fact, the first man to enlist was also a member of the CLB. Bermudian-born Sir Joseph Outerbridge, who had been the Commanding Officer of the Church Lads' Brigade from 1890 to 1894, was the Vice President of the Patriotic Association of Newfoundland, which raised and maintained the Newfoundland Regiment, two of his sons serving in the regiment on the Western Front.

The regiment trained at various locations in the United Kingdom and increased from an initial contingent of 500 men to full battalion strength of 1,000 men, before being deployed.[10] After a period of acclimatization in Egypt, the regiment was deployed at Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli peninsula with the 29th Division in support of the Gallipoli Campaign.[11]

Gallipoli[edit]

On 20 September 1915 the regiment landed at Suvla Bay on the Gallipoli peninsula, where the British VIII Corps, IX Corps and the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) had been attempting to seize control of the Dardanelles Strait from Turkey since the first landings on 25 April. At Gallipoli the 1st Newfoundland Regiment faced snipers, artillery fire and severe cold, as well as the trench warfare hazards of cholera, dysentery, typhus, gangrene and trench foot. Over the next three months thirty soldiers of the regiment were killed or mortally wounded in action and ten died of disease; 150 were treated for frostbite and exposure. Despite the terrible conditions, the Newfoundlanders stood up well. When the decision was made to evacuate all British Empire forces from the area, the regiment was chosen to be a part of the rearguard, finally withdrawing from Gallipoli with the last of the British Dardanelles Army troops on 9 January 1916. With the close of the Gallipoli Campaign the regiment spent a short period recuperating before being transferred to the Western Front in March 1916.[12]

Battle of the Somme[edit]

Restored photo of Regiment members in St. John's Road, a support trench, 200 metres behind the British forward line at Beaumont Hamel, 1916

In France, the regiment regained battalion strength in preparation for the Battle of the Somme. The regiment, still in the 29th Division, went into the line in April 1916 at Beaumont-Hamel.[13] Beaumont-Hamel was situated near the northern end of the 45-kilometre front being assaulted by the joint French and British force. The attack, originally scheduled for June 29, 1916, was postponed by two days to July 1, 1916, partly on account of inclement weather, and partly to allow more time for the artillery preparation.[14] The 29th Division, with its three infantry brigades, faced defences manned by experienced troops of the 119th (Reserve) Infantry Regiment of the 26th (Wurttemberg) Reserve Division.[15] The 119th (Reserve) Infantry Regiment had been involved in the invasion of France in August 1914 and had been manning the Beaumont-Hamel section of the line for nearly 20 months prior to the battle.[15] The German troops had been spending a great deal of their time not only training but fortifying their position, including the construction of numerous deep dugouts and at least two tunnels.[15][16]

Newfoundland soldiers waiting in St. John's Road support trench

The infantry assault by the 29th Division on 1 July 1916 was preceded ten minutes earlier by a mine explosion under the heavily fortified Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt.[17] The explosion of the 18,000 kilograms (40,000 lb) Hawthorn Mine underneath the German lines successfully destroyed a major enemy strong point but also served to alert the German forces to the imminent attack.[18] Following the explosion, troops of the 119th (Reserve) Infantry Regiment immediately deployed from their dugouts into the firing line, even preventing the British from taking control of the resulting crater as they had planned.[19] When the assault finally began, the troops from the 86th and 87th Brigade of the 29th Division were quickly stopped. With the exception of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers on the right flank, the initial assault foundered in No Man's Land at, or short of, the German barbed wire.[20] At divisional headquarters, Major-General Beauvoir De Lisle and his staff were trying to unravel the numerous and confusing messages coming back from observation posts, contact aircraft and the two leading brigades. There were indications that some troops had broken into and gone beyond the German first line.[21] In an effort to exploit the perceived break in the German line he ordered the 88th Brigade, which was in reserve, to send forward two battalions to support attack.[22]

It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further.[23]

Major-General Sir Beauvoir De Lisle referring to the Newfoundland Regiment at Beaumont-Hamel

At 8:45 a.m. the Newfoundland Regiment and 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment received orders to move forward.[22] The Newfoundland Regiment was situated at St. John's Road, a support trench 250 yards (230 m) behind the British forward line and out of sight of the enemy.[24] Movement forward through the communication trenches was not possible because they were congested with dead and wounded men and under shell fire.[25] Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Lovell Hadow, the battalion commander, decided to move immediately into attack formation and advance across the surface, which involved first navigating through the British barbed wire defences.[24] As they breasted the skyline behind the British first line, they were effectively the only troops moving on the battlefield and clearly visible to the German defenders.[25] Subjected to the full force of the 119th (Reserve) Infantry Regiment, most of the Newfoundland Regiment who had started forward were dead, dying or wounded within 15 to 20 minutes of leaving St. John's Road trench.[26] Most reached no further than the Danger Tree, a skeleton of a tree that lay in No Man's Land that was being utilized as a landmark.[27] So far as can be ascertained, 22 officers and 758 other ranks were directly involved in the advance.[27] Of these, all the officers and slightly under 658 other ranks became casualties.[27] Of the 780 men who went forward only about 110 survived unscathed, of whom only 68 were available for roll call the following day.[27] For all intents and purposes the Newfoundland Regiment had been wiped out, the unit as a whole having suffered a casualty rate of approximately 90 percent. The only unit to suffer greater casualties during the attack was the 10th (Service) Battalion, Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment), attacking west of Fricourt village.[28]

After Beaumont-Hamel[edit]

Royal Newfoundland Regiment crossing the Rhine into Germany, 1918

Although significantly understrength, the Newfoundland Regiment continued to see service and after taking on reinforcements was back in the front line on 14 July near Auchonvillers.[29] On 17 July the 88th Brigade was transferred to a quieter portion of the Western Front.[29] In the weeks and months following the attack, the surviving officers wrote letters of condolence to families and relatives in Newfoundland. A period of recovery coupled with additional reinforcements would eventually help the regiment return to full strength. Six weeks later they were beating off a German gas attack in Flanders. Subsequently they distinguished themselves in a number of battles: back on the Somme at Gueudecourt in October 1916; and on 23 April 1917, at Monchy-le-Preux during the Battle of Arras, where they lost 485 men in a day but checked a German attack. In Flanders during the Third Battle of Ypres the battalion attacked on 16 August at the Battle of Langemarck and on 9 October 1917 the battalion formed the left flank of 29th Division's attack as part of the Battle of Poelcappelle. In November 1917 at Masnières-Marcoing during the Battle of Cambrai the regiment stood its ground although outflanked and in April 1918 stemmed a German advance at Bailleul. Following a period out of the line, providing the guard force for General Headquarters at Montreuil, they joined the 28th Brigade of the 9th (Scottish) Division and were in action again at Ledegem and beyond in the advances of the Hundred Days Offensive during which Thomas Ricketts became the youngest soldier of the war to win the Victoria Cross.

First World War Honours[edit]

Governor Davidson strongly felt that the Newfoundland Regiment deserved special recognition for its actions during the battles of Ypres and Cambrai. His request to the British Government to add the prefix Royal to the regiment's name was granted and George V bestowed the regiment with the prefix in December 1917.[30] This was the only time during the First World War that this honour was given and only the third time in the history of the British Army that it has been given during a time of war.[31]

Later history[edit]

BL 9.2 inch Mk II howitzers of 57th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery, during a tour of East Coast defences 1940

When the Second World War broke-out Newfoundland was a Dominion governed directly from the UK. Newfoundland declared war on Germany on 4 September 1939, one day after the United Kingdom. However, no Newfoundland infantry units were raised or sent overseas. Instead, Newfoundland raised two artillery regiments; the 59 Heavy (Newfoundland) Regiment and the 57 (later 166)[32] (Newfoundland) Field Artillery Regiment.

In 1949, after a pair of referenda, Newfoundland joined Canada as the latter's 10th province. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment became the primary militia unit for the province. The regiment is ranked last in the Canadian Forces order of precedence due to Newfoundland's entry into Canada in 1949, long after other Canadian regiments were recognized in the order of precedence. The Freedom of the City was exercised by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador on July 1, 1963.[33] Since 1992, soldiers and sub-units of the regiment have served to augment Regular Force units in Cyprus, Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan on peacekeeping and combat missions. On 30 August 2010, Corporal Brian Pinksen died of his wounds eight days after being injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, making him the regiment's first combat fatality since the First World War.[34]

Alliances[edit]

See also[edit]

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
The Toronto Scottish Regiment
Royal Newfoundland Regiment Succeeded by
Last in order of precedence of Infantry regiments

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Canadian Forces Publication A-DH-267-003 Insignia and Lineages of the Canadian Forces. Volume 3: Combat Arms Regiments.
  2. ^ Jack L. Summers and Rene Chartrand. "History and Uniform of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry". Canadian War Museum. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  3. ^ Alcoba, Natalie (November 3, 2008). "Coupland's War of 1812 monument tweaks U.S. noses". National Post. Retrieved 2008-11-04. 
  4. ^ http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2016-06-30/article-4574904/Princess-Anne-presents-new%2C-consecrated-flags-to-Newfoundland-Regiments-2nd-Battalion/1
  5. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/memorial-day-crowds-newfoundland-regiment-stjohns-1.3661735
  6. ^ Hopkins 1916, pp. 153-156.
  7. ^ Nicholson 2007, p. 98.
  8. ^ Nicholson 2007, p. 88.
  9. ^ Gogos 2015, p. 62.
  10. ^ Nicholson 2007, pp. 121-154.
  11. ^ Nicholson 2007, p. 155-192.
  12. ^ Nicholson 2007, p. 480.
  13. ^ Nicholson 2007, pp. 239-242.
  14. ^ Nicholson 2007, pp. 253, 261.
  15. ^ a b c Nicholson 2007, p. 243.
  16. ^ Sheldon p. 66 [Contemporary map of the dugouts and tunnels associated directly with Y Ravine in June 1916]
  17. ^ Rose & Nathanail 2000, p. 404.
  18. ^ Rose & Nathanail 2000, pp. 404-405.
  19. ^ Nicholson 2007, p. 264-265.
  20. ^ Nicholson 2007, p. 266.
  21. ^ Nicholson 2007, p. 268, [A German flare to indicate shells were falling short of target was mistakenly identified as a British flare used to indicate the first objective had been taken].
  22. ^ a b Nicholson 2007, p. 268.
  23. ^ Gilbert p. 64
  24. ^ a b Nicholson 2007, p. 270.
  25. ^ a b Nicholson 2007, p. 271.
  26. ^ Nicholson 2007, pp. 270, 273.
  27. ^ a b c d Nicholson 2007, p. 274.
  28. ^ Farr 2007, p. 88.
  29. ^ a b Nicholson 2007, p. 284.
  30. ^ Parsons 2003, p. 152.
  31. ^ Nicholson 2007, p. 423.
  32. ^ 166th Newfoundland Regiment
  33. ^ Freedom of the city
  34. ^ "Nfld. Regiment honours first fatality since WWI". CBC News. September 1, 2010. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Nicholson, Gerald W. L. (2007). The Fighting Newfoundlander. Carleton Library Series 209. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0-7735-3206-4. 
  • Parsons, David (2003). "Newfoundland and the Great". In Busch, Briton. Canada and the Great War: Western Front Association Papers. McGill-Queen's Press. 
  • Rose, Edward; Nathanail, Paul (2000). Geology and Warfare: Examples of the Influence of Terrain and Geologists on Military Operations. London: Geological Society. ISBN 0-85052-463-6. 
  • Hopkins, John Castell (1916). The Canadian Annual Review of Public Affairs — 1915. Toronto: Annual Review Publishing Company Limited. 
  • Gogos, Frank (2015). Newfoundland Regiment in the Great War. Flanker Press. ISBN 978-1-77117-336-0. 
  • Farr, Don (2007). The Silent General: A Biography of Haig's Trusted Great War Comrade-in-Arms. Solihull: Helion & Company Limited. ISBN 978-1-874622-99-4. 

External links[edit]