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.
Here is one of our soldiers and the record we have of his service: This is Arthur John Abbott.
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.
At the Tower of London in 2014 we purchased 18 poppies that joined the thousands arranged in the Tower Moat. In churches tributes were also set up. At BP we visited our soldiers and placed a special tribute to their sacrifice on each grave.
In 2014 and 2019 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, marks this spot, where the regiment went through the barbed wire into no mans land, and where the Germans aimed their guns. In 2019 with the Guides at Beaumont Hamel Caribou monument we laid a wreath to the young men who took part in the fateful July 1st attack.
They were evacuated as wounded to the Third London General Hospital Wandsworth, sadly dying of their wounds.
The regiments war diary described the event. Here in a pdf file is the entry for July 1st 1916. July 1st The Somme it is tragic reading.
We have pictures of many of these brave men.
Thomas Carter aged 23, John Charles Edwards aged 24, Stanley Gordon Pike aged 25.
We also have their complete records which come from The Rooms in St John’s Newfoundland, a fantastic museum and archive. Here is a list of our soldiers for you to research:
|Arthur Abbott 2201||John Edwards 450||Philip Gillett 1697|
|Frederick Bastow 700||Patrick Brown 1053||Thomas Carter 1031|
|William Cook 553||Silas Edgecombe 1251||Adolphus Heath 1166|
|James Houlahan 500||Robert Le Buff 1362||Chesley Mercer 1303|
|Heber Miles 934||Edward Peckford 1656||Stanley Pike 1235|
|Augustus Quinton 2195||Alfred Reid 761|
Use this link to the rooms and enter each soldier to view their records. Use the service number first: https://www.therooms.ca/thegreatwar/in-depth/military-service-files/database
There is one nurse buried with the soldiers, her name is Bertha Bartlett. We continue to research all the soldiers and Bertha and to bring their lives back to us. Our contact with the regiment and the families and the Royal Newfoundland Regimental Association has been extensive and these soldiers are now very much part of our children’s studies.
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 and July 1st 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 our work has had.
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.
Two Newfoundlanders were interviewed by Ted for his programme. Karen and Steve Walsh describe their thoughts on our work.
In 2017 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.
We have a visiting Professor Mike Gibson who has written a whole range of history books and is involved in our teacher training SCITT scheme. He has undertaken to write a brief history of the Newfoundland Regiment for us and for you to read: The role played by the Royal Newfoundland Infantry Regiment during the First World War
Below is a unique approach to recording from todays view of Beaumont Hamel, superimposed with a view from 1916, haunting imagery.
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
The story of the Newfoundland Plot is itself a fascinating tale. How Major Nangle dealt with the mess the plot was in and how to begin with the soldiers were buried on top of each other in fours
In July 2018 Teachers, Parents and some year 6 children were invited to take part in the July 1st Remembrance in Newfoundland. BP spent several months working out how this could be accomplished. Never put off by problems a party set out for a weeks visit. We spent time with relatives of the soldiers, marched with the Regiment, gained more information about ‘Our Newfoundlanders’ and even un-veiled a statue. It was an emotional time as we received so many tributes to the work of the school, we did not realise just how much it means to Newfoundlanders to have their soldiers and nurse remembered. We have a display of our work in school. Anyone is welcome to come and see it, particularly any passing Newfoundlander.
Here just a snippet of the photos we have.
Finally from Tess a Year Five Pupil a short Poem entitle ‘Acorn’
As soldier to an army. As army is to war. As war is to loss. As grief is to sadness. As sadness is to tears and as poppies is to fields.