July 1, 1916
The first day of the epic Battle of the Somme was incredibly costly for the soldiers of Newfoundland. Within 30 minutes of the Battle, almost the entire regiment had lost their lives. Only 68 men turned up at roll call that evening, leaving over 700 dead, wounded or missing. The people of Newfoundland purchased the land here to establish this monument, and the bronze caribou is surrounded by rocks and shrubs native to their province in honour of their fallen heroes.
October 12, 1916
The caribou found here marks the spot where Newfoundlanders played a decisive role in the capture of Rainbow Trench, a German stronghold. Though the attack was a difficult one, the Regiment was one of the few units that managed to capture and retain their objective. It helped to boost morale after the carnage of the Somme, but it was not without cost—the Regiment suffered 239 casualties in two days.
April 14, 1917
On this day at 10:00 a.m., Lieutenant-Colonel Forbes Robertson (then-commander of the Newfoundland Regiment) received a report that not one Newfoundlander remained unwounded east of Monchy. As the Germans advanced, he collected a handful of men and led them forward under fire—they being the only thing standing between enemy forces and Monchy, a vital stronghold. Relief finally came mid-afternoon when British reinforcements arrived. The day resulted in 460 Newfoundland casualties.
November 20 – December 2, 1917
The caribou at Masnières commemorates the Battle of Cambrai, in which the Newfoundland Regiment served follow-up to an initial tank-led offensive against the heavily fortified Hindenburg Line, and were successful in making a breach by taking a strategic canal location at Masnieres. His Majesty King George V granted a unique recognition and the title “Royal” to the Newfoundland Regiment as a result of this battle.
October 14, 1917
The only caribou monument found in Belgium marks the Regiment’s success in the battle for Courtrai, a key position and a vital part of the Hundred Days Offensive that effectively drove the Germans from France. If you look closely, you can still see bullet marks pitting the base of the memorial, a reminder of the many sacrifices that were made.
Topics: History, WWI, What to Expect on Tour