Remembering our local Royal Newfoundland Regiment

Reprinted from The Packet, October 26, 2017
by Lester Green

The Southwest Arm Historical Society visited with the residents of the Clarenville Retirement Center Inc.  on Saturday, October 21. Representatives Lester and Helen Green spent the afternoon explaining to a captivated audience the many contributions of young men who trained for the Royal Newfoundland Regiment from the communities of the Southwest Arm area.

Residents of Clarenville Retirement Centre reflecting on stories about 26 soldier from Southwest Arm area.

The residents and visitors were given the opportunity to view the displays that depicted these young boys and their contributions to the Great War effort. They were guided by a slide show that explained the major contribution of each soldier.

Men such as Pte Andrew Shaw that went missing for months after a battle in April, 1918, only to be found as a Prison of War at Hanover, Germany a few months later; soldiers like Pte George Gilbert Baker who was discovered by the Red Cross among his dead comrades three days after a battle and returned home with his right leg amputated and Pte Hubert Green who suffered shrapnel wounds from an exploding bomb while on guard duty. They returned with injuries that remained with them the rest of their lives.

They were reminded that several soldiers made the supreme sacrifice and did not return home. The families of Pte Horatio Seward; Pte George Baker and his brother, Pte Esau Baker; Pte John Lambert; and Pte Richard Spurrell were left with only memories of their fallen sons and family members emotional ached forever for their love ones that were now buried on foreign soil.

Long-term resident M. Ryan and her sister, A. Seward, listen to stories of soldiers from Gooseberry Cove and surrounding area. They enjoyed discussing their five uncles that served in the Royal Naval Reserve during WW1.

Stories were told of nine men who were transported overseas to Hazeley Down Camps, Winchester, England near the end of the war. Some of them were called up to active duty with the 1st Newfoundland Battalion. They traveled across France, Belgium and into Germany helping to secure German prisoners and munitions. Others remained at the Hazeley Down as back-up reserve forces with the 2nd battalion.

They were reminded that six soldiers Pte John Vivian, Pte Absalom Marsh, Pte Abraham Spurrell, Pte Nathaniel Smith, Pte Richard Gosse and Pte William John King trained but did not get the opportunity to go overseas. They remained in Newfoundland performing Special Duties at Heart’s Content, Bishop Falls, Mount Pearl and St. John’s. Their duties were critical, ensuring the safety of communication, infrastructure and the residents of Newfoundland from attacks by Germans U-boats that were patrolling waters off the Newfoundland coast.

F. Green reflects on memories of the stories she heard about Alexander Peddle and other sailors that did not return home.

At the end of the slideshow, they were reminded that the Southwest Arm Historical Society is presently working on 85 stories of young men who served as sailors with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve from the area. These stories are now being featured in the Packet under a series called Where Once They Sailed.

Residents were reminded that the displays and presentation were about soldiers from the Southwest Arm area but young men served from every crook and cranny in this province. They were asked to think about individuals from their communities and encouraged to tell the stories of the many young men who served in the Great War 100 years ago.

The evening ended with Helen Green’s rendition of the Dixie Chicks song Travelin Soldier. She reminded the audience that soldiers from the Vietnam conflict were no different than those of the Great War. Every soldier who served in a conflict wants to write back home to a love one whether it is a girlfriend, mother, father, sister or brother. They just want someone to remember them. Lest We Forget.