GALLERY: BEAUMONT-HAMEL NEWFOUNDLAND MEMORIAL

The Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in France is a pilgrimage site for Newfoundlanders. At this site on the morning of July 1, 1916, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment was sent to slaughter and essentially wiped out in the span of thirty minutes. Of the some eight-hundred men who took part, only sixty-eight were available for roll call the next day. The casualty rate was eighty percent (over three-hundred killed, missing or presumed dead. (Note: Newfoundland was, at that time, a Dominion of the British Empire; we did not join Canada until 1949.)

The Beaumont-Hamel site is a sombre place, and rightly so. The visit left me wondering: How do we honour the war dead? The only answer I can come up with is honesty. We do right by them in knowing that they not only died fighting for our freedoms, but fighting tyranny (and we should do the same). And that these men—many of them boys—were not only heroes, but victims—victims of the machinations of empire, of the excess ambitions of power. (In the case of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, they were also victims of incompetent planning and negligence.)

These pictures were taken with my phone (a Motorola Moto G), and I edit using the wonderful Snapseed app. -JRS