Our Newfoundlanders 1914-1918

In 2003 our youngest children when visiting the cemetery for conkers noticed that on one plot, the soldiers had no poppies following November 11th.  Our response was to ask the children in the school what they would do.  The answer has been a an on-going tribute to the 17 young men and one nurse buried far from their home in Newfoundland.  It has been a journey of remembrance for their sacrifice and a journey of discovery about who they were and how they arrived in a quiet spot in our cemetery.   It has been a remarkable journey involving research, e mails from families and contact with the Newfoundland regiment. In 2014 the UK alongside many other countries marked 100 years since the beginning of the Great War.  Our children took part in a series of events about ‘Our Soldiers’.  We have dedicated this part of the web to their memory.  Our research and discovery continues and each year we go over to the soldiers and remember them in our own way.  Long may this continue.  Now to our soldiers.

Our first: This is Arthur John Abbot

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He is a Newfoundlander.  He was just 22 when he died in 1917.  He is the first of our soldiers and here is his record: Abbott_Arthur_John-rnr-1410

At the Tower of London in 2014 we purchased four poppies that joined the thousands arranged in the Tower Moat.  In churches tributes were also set up.  At BP we visit our soldiers and placed a special tribute to their sacrifice on each grave.

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In 2014 our year 5 and 6 children visited the Somme.  We stood on the very spot the soldiers who are buried opposite school were wounded on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  With a guide we heard how the Newfoundland Regiment left their trenches and attacked the German lines and how they were decimated by machine gun fire.  A withered tree, all that is left of the wood marks this spot, where the regiment went through the barbed wire into no mans land, and where the Germans aimed their guns.

In the graves opposite us are some of the soldiers who later died of their wounds from this July 1st attack. They were evacuated to the Wandsworth War Hospital where sadly they lost their lives.  Here they lie:

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We are very fortunate to have a copy of the regiments war diary. Here in a pdf file is the entry for July 1st 1916.  July 1st The Somme it is tragic reading.

We have pictures of three of these brave men.

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Thomas Carter aged 23      John Charles Edwards aged 24  Stanley Gordon Pike aged 25

We also have their complete records and here they are for you to read and view their lives as a soldier.

There is one nurse buried with the soldiers, her name is Bertha Bartlett.  We have her picture but know little else about her.  Our aim is to research all the soldiers and Bertha and to bring their lives back to us.   We hope to make contact and pursue our research with the regiment and hopefully the families.  In the meantime here is Nurse Bartlett:

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We also took a tribute to six of our Newfoundlanders to the beautiful Tower Poppies, representing the rest of their fellow soldiers lying silently in Earlsfield.

On Armistice Day November 11th 2015 23 year 6 pupils told the story of the Newfoundland Regiment at Burntwood School.  The whole school assembly in total silence heard the names of soldiers, their diary entries, their personal details and their tragic end at Beaumont Hamel on the morning of July 1st 1916.  As their Head I sat there amongst the Burntwood staff and students feeling proud of their stunning presentation and saddened by the tragic attack these soldiers faced and their inevitable death or wounding.  Throughout this week we had Ted Blades of the Canadian Broadcasting Company with us reporting on our care for the 17 Newfoundland graves opposite our school.  Since 2003 we have placed poppy  memorials every November on each grave along with the Australians further on in the cemetery. Each year we have learnt more about each individual soldier.  Ted’s latest report explains a little more about the impact it has in Canada.

Newfoundlanders in Wandsworth

Brigadier General Overton of the Canadian High Commission met our children in person to thank them for their care of their soldiers and watched their presentation of our soldiers.   We have also received many e mails from Canada, here is but one example:

I just read a story about your students on the CBC website in Newfoundland Canada.  It was the story of your students placing poppies on the graves of the Newfoundland soldiers who lost their lives during WW1.  I wanted to let you know that one of those soldiers is my Fathers Cousin, John Charles Edwards.  Your story has touched family very much and we want to thank you for caring for our relative.  Your kindness has not gone unnoticed.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.   A very moving response to the children’s work.

Ted completed his programme and it is a remarkable tribute to the work of  our children.  To hear it, hopefully the link will take you direct to the programme, but if not copy the link to your web browser and it should work.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/programs/onthego/we-were-here-once-we-are-still-here-now-1.3504033

Ted has added pictures and video to the same piece as above.      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVUhiBaGvqc

We also had two visitors who wanted to meet the children and talk to them about this project, Steve Walsh with his wife recorded their thoughts when they returned home,

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/programs/onthego/a-personal-pilgrimage-to-the-newfoundland-regiment-plot-1.3647457

Remembrance 2016.  To these brave Newfoundlanders, we will remember them.

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This year we were invited to take part in the remembrance day ceremony at the Canadian Memorial in Green Park.  It was an opportunity to honour our Newfoundlanders and to pay tribute to the men and women of Canada lost in war and peace keeping.

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We have a visiting Professor Mike Gibson who has written a whole range of history books and is involved in our SCITT.  He has undertaken to write a brief history of the Newfoundland Regiment for us and for you to read:  a-history-of-the-newfoundland-regiment  Below is a unique approach to recording from todays view of Beaumont Hamel, superimposed with a view from 1916, haunting imagery.

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Mike has continued his research and has now given us an insight into the Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurses, one of which, Bertha Bartlett is buried in our Newfoundlanders plot, here is his work for you to read, it’s in pdf format. (a reader is free from Adobe)  Nurses and the Newfoundland Regiment

July 1st 2017 Year 6 Children pay tribute to those of our Newfoundlanders who fell wounded at Beaumont Hamel on the first day of the ‘Battle of the Somme’ and later died in the Third London General Hospital, Wandsworth and now lie opposite our school ‘We will Remember Them’         Third London General Hospital WW1
          

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