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A Curious Trail to Canada’s Newfoundland Regiment in the Battle of the Somme

My wife and I are moving to another home, a home smaller than the other and that means a lot of stuff has to go.

Toward that end we’ve emptied two attics and one storeroom not to mention the rest of the house. Many of the boxes contained items from our son’s school days. He kept what he wanted and told us to dump the rest, some of which was packed in boxes that had not yet been opened.

So the other day as we sorted through the last of our son’s school memories my wife discovered a book titled Liberty’s Victorious Conflict-A Photographic History of the World War.

This one appears to be in much better shape than the one we found.

This one appears to be in much better shape than the one we found.

The world war in question is the First World War and the book was published by The Magazine Circulation Company of Chicago, publishers of Woman’s Weekly.

There are a couple of odd things related to this book.

One, it is the type of thing I would collect but how and why it got in my son’s grade school memory box I do not know.

Two, I have absolutely no memory of the book and am simply assuming I purchased it at a rummage sale.

Now the sad part. The book is in rough shape. The front cover is falling off and the first 8 pages are entirely missing. Other pages are torn and chunks of pages are missing. On other pages a child has used a red crayon to damage even more of the photographs.

My excitement at finding the book in the first place was dampened by realizing the considerable damage done to the book.

I quickly recovered and immediately began to think how I might salvage the pictures I could salvage. But first, I thought I’d research the book a little to find out when it was published and what it was worth if still available. (I had no intention of selling it unless it was worth a fortune in which case I’d think about it.)

I first went to Amazon and found that it was still available through a variety of sources. The price varied from around $6.00 to $45.00 which I assume meant finding one in pristine condition. I enjoyed finding the one I had in my possession so much I thought I’d order a complete one with minimal damage which I did for around $11.00.

My second step took me the Google Search Engine just to see what else might turn up.

To my surprise I found a digital copy at Memorial University’s Centre for Newfoundland Studies.

I was uncertain as to why a Canadian University would digitize a book marketed to Americans but I assumed it was somehow connected to a Newfoundland resident and they thought it worth preserving electronically. I am glad they did.

(as I noted previously my copy of the book is damaged so my observations from this point in are relevant to the digitized copy from Memorial University.)

I wanted to see what the missing pages looked like and found the below image on the inside cover page:

What an extraordinary picture!

The image is that of Lady Liberty vintage 1918. Three US Presidents are featured above the lady. George Washington occupies the center front position and he is flanked by Abraham Lincoln (President during the American Civil War) and President Woodrow Wilson on the other flank (President during World War One).

Lady Liberty is also flanked by a fleet of warships on her right side probably symbolizing the fact the US had to cross the Atlantic to fight in World War 1 and maybe to symbolize America’s growing naval strength. The fact that Lady Liberty’s right hand rests on a globe seems to indicate America’s emergence as a world power and the fleet of ships may represent the projection of that power.

USS Wyoming BB32 a dreadnought-served with the British Grand Fleet during WW1

USS Wyoming BB32 a dreadnought-served with the British Grand Fleet during WW1

On Lady Liberty’s left is the Statue of Liberty again symbolizing liberty. In her left hand she holds a staff crowned with an American eagle although it looks a bit Roman to me.

What is even more interesting are the fragments of three newspaper clippings pasted on the bottom of Lady Liberty’s portrait. I’m unsure at this point if they are covering anything up. We’ll see when I get my copy that is in better shape.

On the left is a curious clipping titled How King George III Prayed. King George III was King of England during the War for Independence and so again one has to wonder who owned the book and thought to include something regarding KG III and his prayer habits.

King George III-George was a Hanoverian German.

King George III-George was a Hanoverian German.

The prayer appears to have something to do with the king’s presence at St. James for religious services. If people wanted to observe the king apparently they had to pay a fee to watch him and/or join him in prayer. Why this was important to the owner of the book remains a mystery.

The middle fragment is the answer to a question given to the editor. The question is “Where is Westphalia?” The editor explains not only where the German State of Westphalia is but also its history dating back to the Napoleonic Wars. Again, why this clip was pasted into the book will be a mystery.

Germany during WW1. Westphalia is in red. The blue areas represent Prussian provinces.

Germany during WW1. Westphalia is in red. The blue areas represent Prussian provinces.

The third fragment is too partial to make much sense of but it mentions St. Paul and seems to have something to do with Christian living in the home. The file notes indicate a connection with Quakers-a pacifistic sect. A little digging into Newfoundland’s history shows that many early colonists to Newfoundland were dissenters-meaning dissent from the Anglican Church. Some were Quakers. Since two of the three clippings have a religious bent to them it may be safe to assume that the book was owned possibly by a Quaker, but not necessarily from Newfoundland since the publication is American.

Notes on the bottom of the file page indicate there is a picture on page 121 of German soldiers who have surrendered at Beaumont Hamal. The notes state that the Newfoundland Regiment was decimated there at the First Battle of the Somme, July 1st, 1916 and it’s where a monument stands to the regiment. This footnote turned out to be the biggest clue as to why the university preserved the book.

My copy of the book shows a number of pictures of German prisoners on page 121 although the bottom third is torn off.

Of the four pictures I have three show prisoners under American guard and the other does indeed show prisoners guarded by Canadians that appear to be from a Scottish Regiment. The picture caption says they are British troops. Below is a copy from the university’s website.

getimage-real (3)

 Here’s a link to the Newfoundland Regiment’s history at the Battle of the Somme and some information on the Memorial.

My speculation at this point is that the university’s copy of the book was brought into their collection because of this picture. I’m guessing that some eagle eyed researcher came across the book at a yard sale, spotted the picture and recognized it as part of Newfoundland’s history. From there it went into the university’s archives where it was eventually digitized.

Here is link to the Newfoundland Monument and park at Beaumont, Hamal.

The Newfoundland Caribou monument is dedicated to the missing in action.

The Newfoundland Caribou monument is dedicated to the missing in action.

The inscription on the monument reads:

To the Glory of God and in perpetual remembrance of those officers and men of the Newfoundland Forces who gave their lives by Land and Sea in the Great War and who have no known graves.

A fitting tribute to the men who fought the war to end all wars.

Badge of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Canada

Badge of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Canada

I’ll be investigating more of the pictures that I discovered in Liberty’s Victorious Conflict.

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