OTTAWA, July 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadian, British and French citizens gathered today at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, in France, in honour of those who fought and died at Beaumont-Hamel on July 1, 1916—the opening day of the Battle of the Somme during the First World War.
"Ninety-seven years ago today, the battle that became known as one of the bloodiest in the history of the British Army opened in France. There are few places in the world that serve as a greater testament to the history of our nation or the strength of our people than Beaumont-Hamel and the Somme," said the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie. "On Canada Day, as we celebrate our great country, we enjoy our freedom thanks to brave heroes in uniform like the Newfoundlanders and Canadians who fought on the Somme. It is our duty to continue to remember their sacrifices."
A number of dignitaries attended the commemorative ceremony marking the 97th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. They included Mr. Kim Butler, Plenipotentiary Minister, Canadian Embassy in France, the Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Mr. Yann Misiak, Secretary General of the sous-préfecture of Péronne and representative of the French Republic.
On July 1, 1916, the men of the Newfoundland Regiment advanced over open ground into a relentless barrage of artillery and machine gun fire. Tragically, in less than half an hour, the Regiment was torn apart and the next day, only 68 of the approximately 800 men who went into battle would answer the roll call.
"In this year of the 97th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, the Government of Canada remains committed to honouring the valiant actions of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who gave so much to help protect our freedom," said Mr. Butler.
2013 is the Year of the Korean War Veteran—Canada proudly remembers the heroes of the Korean War and their brave fight to uphold freedom, democracy and the rule of law. For more information on Canada's role in the Korean War, visit veterans.gc.ca.
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada