Exploits of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment honoured in new coin

Royal Newfoundland Regiment coin
Canadian artist Silvia Pecota designed the 99.99 percent pure silver coin which poignantly captures the bravery and tragedy of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel where the soldiers of the Newfoundland Regiment participated in the first ground attack of the Somme Offensive on July 1, 1916. Only 30 minutes into this assault, all but 68 of the 801-man regiment were cut down by enemy fire. Photo: Jordan Haworth, The Guard

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By Alec Connor, Co-op student with The Guard

The Royal Canadian Mint has issued a commemorative coin highlighting Newfoundland’s extraordinary contribution to final victory in the First World War.

The coin, with a face value of 20 dollars, features the men of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment going “over the top” in battle on the obverse, with His Majesty King George V on the reverse, rendered in silver and gold by artist Pandora Young.

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment may be best known for their sacrifice during the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, a part of the first day of the Somme Campaign. On that day, British and Commonwealth Forces suffered over sixty thousand casualties, of which twenty thousand were killed or missing in action. At the village of Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment suffered catastrophic losses during an early morning attack, with all the officers and nearly all of the men of the Regiment becoming casualties.

July 1, in addition to being Canada Day, is commemorated in Newfoundland as Memorial Day in honour of the battle. Newfoundlanders served honourably not only in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, but also in the Royal Navy, Royal Flying Corps, and the Merchant Marine throughout the war.

Far from being confined to Newfoundland, commemorations of the battle occur across Canada, including an annual commemorative parade on July 1, featuring stirring music from the Atlantic Voices choir and a solemn moment of silence.

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