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Sunday 9 November 2014

World War One

The sight of the World War One memorial at the Tower of London, with almost nine hundred thousand poppies representing the casualties of Britain and the Commonwealth during that war, made me think of home. The cost of the war, in casualties alone, had a tremendous impact on the British colony of Newfoundland.

When Great Britain went to war in 1914, Newfoundland was at war as well. In September of that year, the First Newfoundland Regiment was formed and the first contingent shipped out to Britain in October. The Regiment fought in Gallipoli, Egypt, and France. At Beaumont Hamel in France the Regiment suffered huge loses on July, 1, 1916 during the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The next morning, of the 780 men who left the trenches the previous day, only 110 survived and only 68 answered roll call. William Taylor was one of those survivors and my sister-in-law, Michele, is one of his granddaughters.

The loss of so many young men, a total of 1204 during the entire war, was devastating to the colony, with a population just over 240,000. The deaths of these young men were huge losses to their villages and towns all around Newfoundland.  A generation was affected, missing so many young men, who would have married and started families of their own. Those who did survive, like William Taylor, often had large families who in turn had large families. His son Jack had seven children including Michele.

One casualty of the WWI was Edgar Moulton. He was my husband's great great uncle, from Burgeo, Newfoundland. Edgar left his home in Burgeo where his father was the fish merchant and joined the Newfoundland Regiment. He was married and had one daughter. For our family, Edgar is the face of that war, and our sign of its cost.

         Edgar Moulton

Imagine the thousands of descendants who were not born because of this war. What did we lose besides husbands and fathers? What greatness was never realized? The idealism of our youth, their spirit of patriotism, loyalty, adventure, love of King, family and friends, led them to military action on foreign soil. They gave everything; we lost so much!

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