OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 1, 2012) - Canadian and French citizens gathered today at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in France in honour of those who fought and died at Beaumont-Hamel on July 1, 1916-the opening day of the Battle of the Somme.
"Ninety-six years ago today, the battle that became known as one of the bloodiest days in the history of the British Army took place in France. There are few places in the world that serve as a greater testament to the incredible history of our nation or the strength of our people than Beaumont-Hamel," said Minister Blaney. "On Canada Day, as we celebrate our great country, we enjoy our freedom thanks to those Newfoundlanders and Canadians who fought on the Somme. It is our duty to continue to remember their sacrifices."
On behalf of Minister Steven Blaney, Ms. Nathalie Dubé, Counsellor (Trade, Investment and Innovation) and Senior Trade Commissioner, Canadian Embassy in France, participated in the commemorative ceremony marking the 96th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. The Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Health and Community Services of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Mr. Jean-Marc Bassaget, Sous-Préfet of Péronne and representing the French Republic, also attended the ceremony.
On July 1, 1916, the men of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment advanced over open ground into a relentless barrage of artillery and machine gun fire. The battle lasted only 30 minutes. Tragically, the next day, only 68 of the 801 men who went into battle would answer the roll call.
"In this year of the 96th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, the Government of Canada remains committed to honouring the valiant actions of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who gave so much to help protect our freedom," said Ms. Dubé.
For more information the Battles of the Somme and of Beaumont-Hamel, visit veterans.gc.ca. Share your thoughts at facebook.com/CanadaRemembers.