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Chapter Six. Newfoundland and the First World War. Part I. The Start of the First World War. The World at the Start of the 1900s. The world at the start of the 1900s was very different than it is today

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chapter six

Chapter Six

Newfoundland and the First World War

part i
Part I

The Start of the First World War

the world at the start of the 1900s
The World at the Start of the 1900s
  • The world at the start of the 1900s was very different than it is today
  • The world was dominated by Europe: it was the center of the world; and Europe was ruled by 5 main countries:
    • Austria-Hungary
    • France
    • Germany
    • Great Britain
    • Russia
the 5 powers of europe
The 5 Powers of Europe
  • These 5 countries often competed with one another for world power
  • They did this through many means, but mainly through building larger militaries, getting bigger Empires and forming alliances.
  • The last time a Great Power went to war with another was in 1871 (France-Germany)
building military strength
Building Military Strength

The 5 powers would try to be stronger than the others by having the biggest and best military. This competition was called an Arms Race

Each Great Power tried to have bigger and better equipped armies; some Great Powers wanted Naval strength (ships) as well.


The Political Strength of a country in those days was measured by the size of their Empire

European countries (sometimes non-Great Powers) sent their armies all over the world to conquer land to rule. This was called Colonization

Asia and Africa were popular places to colonize.


To prevent war, the Great Powers aligned themselves with other countries and Great Powers to form Alliances

An alliance is like a military friendship: countries promise to protect other members of the alliance in case of war

There were many alliances before 1914, but the main two were called the Triple Entente/Allies and the Central Powers

the alliances of europe
The Alliances of Europe

The Triple-Entente

The Central Powers



Italy (not a main power)

  • France
  • Russia
  • Great-Britain
other notable alliances
Other Notable Alliances


German-Ottoman Empire (Modern-day Middle-East) – A secret alliance that no other country knew about

Great Britain-Belgium (signed in 1839!!)

the alliances of europe again
The Alliances of Europe (Again)

The Triple-Entente

The Central Powers



Italy Ottoman-Empire

  • France
  • Russia
  • Great-Britain
  • Serbia
  • Belgium
  • Seen as the leader of the Central Powers
  • Young country (1871)
  • Really big army, small navy (wanted bigger) and small empire
  • Wanted to be a world power, but was too late to the Great Power game
austria hungary
  • Very old country (1506)
  • Very large army, very small navy and NO OVERSEAS EMPIRE
  • Wanted to become bigger in Europe (take over other countries)
  • Very large country.
  • Biggest Army in Europe, but was poorly trained and poorly equipped
  • No Overseas Empire – wanted to expand its borders in Europe (become bigger)
  • Though to have the best Army in Europe (very big and well trained)
  • Very big overseas Empire (second in the world)
  • Wanted land back that was lost to Germany in the 1871 War (the last time 2 Great Powers went to war…)
great britain
Great Britain
  • Had the largest empire in human history (1/4 of the earth’s surface)
  • Had a very small army, but the largest Navy in the world (it is an island..)
  • Wanted: Rule of the seas and for there to be many Great Powers: not just 1
conflicts before 1914
Conflicts Before 1914

Russia-Austria-Hungary: both wanted the same piece of land in south-east Europe

Germany-France & Great Britain: Wanted an empire

France-Germany: France wanted its lost land back

Great Britain-Germany: Both wanted rule of the seas

Great Britain-Germany: Germany wanted to be the greatest of the great powers; Great Britain didn’t want a single power ruling the world

austria hungary1
  • Very old country (1506)
  • Very large army, very small navy and NO OVERSEAS EMPIRE
  • Wanted to become bigger in Europe (take over other countries)
section 2
Section 2

Newfoundland Goes to War

newfoundland and the war
Newfoundland and the War

When Great Britain declared war on the Central Powers, Newfoundland was automatically at war too

Newfoundland hadn’t had a military force since the 1870s

The Government of Newfoundland decided to raise a Regiment for overseas service with the British Army. This unit was to be called The Newfoundland Regiment

Regiment: A fighting force of about 800-1000 men

creating a fighting force
Creating a Fighting Force
  • Men from all over Newfoundland joined the British Army in 1914
  • These men ranged from fishermen, to trappers, to wealthy sons of businessmen
creating a fighting force1
Creating a Fighting Force
  • No one thought the war would last long (“It Will Be Over by Christmas”).
  • Many joined out of love for Newfoundland and because they believed in the British Empire – this was called Patriotism

Another tool governments used to get people to join the army was called Propaganda

Propaganda: information used to promote a political cause or point of view (in this case, join the military)

raising the newfoundland regiment
Raising the Newfoundland Regiment

Propaganda was effective, and hundreds of men joined the Newfoundland Regiment

These men had no formal military experience – officers and sergeants were cadet leaders or prominent locals.

The first 500 men to join (named “The First 500”) trained in Pleasantville before leaving for England on 14 October 1914

the newfoundland regiment
The Newfoundland Regiment

A problem with clothing materials gave the Newfoundland Regiment its nickname

British soldiers wore cloth wrap around their lower legs to prevent them from stepping on their pants. These wraps were called Puttees and were supposed to be khaki, like the rest of the uniform

the blue puttees
The Blue Puttees

A khaki shortage meant that there was no material to make khaki puttees

Instead, the NL Regiment was issued puttees made out of a blue fabric. Their nickname then became “The Blue Puttees”

This was the nickname they carried for the rest of the war

section iii
Section III

The Newfoundland Regiment at War

the war so far
The War So Far
  • Neither side is winning the war by the end of 1914
  • Both sides have dug Trenches (ditches to fight in) that stretch from the ocean to the border of Switzerland. There is no way around them – only through
  • By the end of 1914, already 1 million men have died attacking each other’s trenches
the regiment at war
The Regiment at War
  • The Newfoundland Regiment arrived in England in late 1914
  • Instead of going straight to the battlefields, they spend the next few months training in “modern warfare tactics”
  • Learned things like how to attack a trench, how to use machine-guns, grenades, etc.
  • In early 1915, the Newfoundland Regiment receives orders to leave England…but they’re not going to France
  • Instead, they’re sent to Egypt where they will prepare to fight the Ottoman Empire
the battle of gallipoli
The Battle of Gallipoli
  • In 1915, the British Army makes a plan to knock the Ottomans out of the war
  • They will land an army by boat on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Suvla Bay – only 100 miles from the capital of the Ottoman Empire
  • It is hoped that the force will be able to surprise the Turkish Army and force them to surrender
  • For months, the Newfoundland Regiment occupied trenches opposite the Turks.
  • Fighting was brutal, often being hand-to-hand
  • After a few months the British Force (including the Newfoundlanders) left the peninsula in defeat.
battle of the somme
Battle of the Somme
  • The Newfoundland Regiment left Gallipoli and moved on to France
  • Fighting in this country was between two lines of trenches, known as the Western Front
battle of the somme1
Battle of the Somme
  • In 1916, British General Haig created a plan that he thought would end the war if it worked
  • Several-hundred-thousand soldiers would attack German positions on 1 July 1916 along the River Somme
  • The Newfoundland Regiment was given the task of being the second unit to attack the town of Beaumont-Hamel
beaumont hamel
  • On 1 July 1916, British Forces left their trenches and attacked along the Somme.
  • The German soldiers, thought to be dead after weeks of shelling, were still alive and wiped out most of the first wave of attackers.
beaumont hamel1
  • Despite the initial failure of the attack, General Haig ordered more soldiers to attack
  • After watching a slaughter of 3000 men, the Newfoundland Regiment was ordered to attack the town of Beaumont-Hamel
beaumont hamel2
  • 801 men of the Newfoundland Regiment left their trenches around 830am
  • Due to a communications problem, they were the only British soldiers attacking – thus they were the only target for the German machine-guns to aim at
  • By 9am, the Newfoundland Regiment was all but destroyed.
beaumont hamel3
  • Very few soldiers of the Regiment made it to the German lines
  • Of the 801 Newfoundlanders who attacked Beaumont-Hamel, only 68 were present at roll call the next morning
  • The entire Battle of the Somme was a failure; the war did not end in the summer of 1916
after july 1 st 1916
After July 1st, 1916
  • Although the Regiment was wiped out at Beaumont-Hamel, it was quickly re-formed (propaganda, recruiting, etc.)
  • It fought numerous actions and took part in many famous battles.
after july 1 st
After July 1st
  • The Newfoundland Regiment was wiped out again at the Battle of Monchy-le-Preux in April, 1917.
  • They were given the title “Royal” after their actions at the Battle of Cambrai in November, 1917. From then after they were known as the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
sgt thomas ricketts vc 1901 1967
Sgt. Thomas Ricketts, VC (1901-1967)
  • Tommy Rickets was a NL soldiers who joined the army at age 15
  • By 17, he was a veteran of 2 years
sgt thomas ricketts vc
Sgt. Thomas Ricketts, VC
  • Tommy Ricketts won the British Empire’s highest award for bravery, the Victoria Cross, for actions at the Battle of Ledgehem, 1918
  • He was the youngest Victoria Cross recipient in the British Army and the only member of the Newfoundland Regiment to receive it…ever
end of war
End of War
  • World War 1 ended on 11 November 1918
  • The Newfoundland Regiment returned home the following year.
  • Over 4 years of war, 1291 soldiers of the Newfoundland Regiment died and 2314 were wounded.
  • By war’s end, the Regiment was considered an elite force of the British Army – not too bad for a unit only 4 years old
royal newfoundland naval reserve
Royal Newfoundland Naval Reserve
  • On the outbreak of war, thousands of Newfoundlanders joined the British Navy
  • These sailors served all over the world on British Ships and were involved in prominent battles like the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of Zeebrugge (where they manned small landing boats for marines)
volunteer aid detachment
Volunteer Aid Detachment
  • Young women from Newfoundland volunteered for war service with the Volunteer Aid Detachment
  • They became war nurses who cared for wounded soldiers
  • These nurses often put themselves in great danger from being so close to the battles
newfoundland forestry corps
Newfoundland Forestry Corps
  • Many young men travelled to Scotland in 1917 to cut wood needed for the war effort
  • Wood was essential to building military weapons (like rifles) and these men had the job of cutting the wood
merchant marine
Merchant Marine
  • Newfoundlanders also served in cargo ships that carried war supplies across the Atlantic Ocean to England.
  • These ships were constantly harassed by German Submarine attacks
newfoundlanders in the canadian army
Newfoundlanders in the Canadian Army
  • Some Newfoundlanders also joined the Canadian Army instead of the Newfoundland Regiment
  • One of these men was John Bernard Croke, who was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918. He died of his wounds shortly after doing his brave deed
the home front
The Home Front
  • Groups at home worked to send supplies, support, encouragement and materials to the troops who were fighting overseas.
women s patriotic association
Women’s Patriotic Association
  • Made bandages, knitted socks, scarves, hats, raised funds, visited families and cared for injured veterans.
  • 15 000 members in Newfoundland.
  • Worked hard to support the soldiers who were fighting overseas.
newfoundland patriotic association
Newfoundland Patriotic Association
  • 300 volunteers (mostly from St. John’s)
  • Responsible for recruiting members for the Newfoundland Regiment, Royal Naval Reserve and Forestry Corps.
  • Existed until 1917, when it was taken over by government.
  • The compulsory (forced) enlistment of citizens for military service.
  • In May 1918, the Newfoundland Government passed an Act requiring unmarried men aged 19 – 25 to register for service. As it turned out, these men never had to be shipped to war, and the Newfoundland Regiment was able to say that during World War One, it was completely a volunteer fighting force overseas in Europe.
reasons for conscription
Reasons for Conscription

1. Newfoundland’s pride was at stake. It was feared that the regiment would be taken over by the British or Canadians.

2. The British Empire was threatened and Newfoundland should support Britain.

3. Canada passed conscription in 1916 and Newfoundland should as well.

reasons against conscription
Reasons Against Conscription

1. The Government did not have the right to force people to fight.

2. It was a European war not a Newfoundland war.

3. The merchants were getting rich of the war effort while the working class risked their lives.

financial cost of the war
Financial Cost of the War
  • The war had cost Newfoundland 35 million dollars. It had to borrow 13 million to help finance the war and when the war ended Newfoundland had to pay disability allowances and pensions to the veterans. This debt would be something Newfoundland would never be able to recover from.
the dead
The Dead
  • Many men were killed or wounded during the war (1753). This affected the number of men who were working, fishing, etc. in the towns and villages, which would have many negative effects on the communities.
the spanish flu
The Spanish Flu
  • There was a serve outbreak towards the end of the war and soldiers returning home brought it back to Newfoundland..
  • In a effort to contain the disease, public places were closed and special hospitals were set up.
  • People were buried in mass graves to keep up with all the casualties.
  • The epidemic claimed 25 – 30 million lives worldwide – more people than died in the war.
women s suffrage movement
Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Suffrage – the struggle of women to earn the right to vote.
  • Organizations like the WPA and VAD showed that women were resourceful and capable citizens. These organizations increased their confidence and desire to have voice and the right to vote.
women s suffrage movement1
Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Had to overcome a great deal of contempt from men who felt and advertised their opinions that women should stay at home, to cook, to clean and raise their families.
  • In 1925, after a long struggle with powerful government men, Prime Minister Walter Monroe passed a law whereby all women 25 years of age could vote.
  • Women came to play a more important role in society after the war and many changes were to come as a result.