Newfoundland Regiment

Too often Australians overlook the service of others at Gallipoli – French, British, Indian – and Canadian. The Canadians at Gallipoli were Newfoundlanders at the time, and while they and their casualties were comparatively small, they too, should be remembered.

lala baba poppies

Poppies, Lala Baba, Suvla

Newfoundland, an island located off the north-east coast of Canada, was discovered by Europeans around 1000, and became the earliest permanent British colony in North America in 1583. The Newfoundland Regiment fought at Gallipoli, and while Newfoundland was at the time a British Dominion (as was Australia and Canada) it joined Canada in 1949. (Some 650,000 Canadians enlisted in the First World War, suffering 236,000 casualties including 66,000 dead.)

Australians and New Zealanders fought at Gallipoli as distinct national units, and were not broken up brigade by brigade, or battalion by battalion, and distributed to British divisions. Not so fortunate was the Newfoundland Regiment – a battalion sized unit of about 1000 officers and men. It was raised on 21 August 1914, and the first 500 men (known as the Blue Puttees, as khaki puttees were not issued ) sailed for England on 4 October, 1914, for training at Aldershot and then in Scotland.

In August the regiment was sent to reinforce the British 29th Division which had landed at Cape Helles on 25 April. The landing was initially commanded by the wastefully incompetent General Aylmer Hunter Weston. The 29th suffered thousands of casualties in the battles for Krithia in May 1915. (Overall the 29th suffered around 34,000 casualties at Gallipoli, and won 12 Victoria Crosses. )

They Newfoundlanders would probably not have gone to Gallipoli except for a tragic train accident on 22 May 1915 at Quintinshill near Gretna Green in Scotland, which killed 214 and injured 218 men of the Royal Scots ‘Leith’ Battalion which was being sent as reinforcement to the 29th Division. This disaster claimed more lives than any train accident in British history.

Untitled copy

First ten men to enlist, August 1914. From ‘The First 500’ by Richard Cramm.

The regiment arrived at Alexandria on 1 September 1915, and landed 1076 officers and men at Suvla Bay on 20 September. The earlier British landing at Suvla on 6 August, under the lazily incompetent command of General Stopford, had failed to take the heights above Anzac positions. This almost criminal inertia cost the Anzacs hundreds of lives – at the Nek, Chunuk Bair and Lone Pine. By the time the Newfoundlanders arrived the situation at Suvla was akin to the trench warfare at Anzac.

Fifteen men were wounded by Turkish shells that morning, becoming the regiment’s first battle casualties. Two days later, on 22 September, 1915, Private Hugh Walter McWhirter became the first soldier of the regiment to be killed in action. Private William Hardy, killed the next day, was the second. After several months suffering from atrocious weather, heat and then the worst winter in decades, poor supplies, lack of water, disease, shellfire and occasional bursts of offensive activity, the Newfoundlanders were withdrawn in December, first to Lemnos and then to act as rearguard for the British withdrawal from Helles in January

Official Canadian figures indicate ‘approximately’ 40 deaths at Gallipoli – 22 Newfoundlanders killed in action, eight died of wounds, and ten died of disease.

They are buried in three cemeteries at Gallipoli: Hill 10 and Azmak, at Suvla, and Lancashire Landing at Helles. The wounded are to be found on Lemnos in Greece, Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt, and Malta. Seven men buried at sea are remembered on the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont Hamel in France.

Beaumont Hamel on 1 July 1916 was Newfoundland’s worst single day of the war, where the regiment was almost entirely destroyed. 801 men went into battle, 255 were killed, 386 wounded and 91 were missing. 68 answered the roll on 2 July. The commander of the 29th General Sir Henry de Beauvoir De Lisle commended this tragedy: ‘It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no further’.


Some 6300 Newfoundlanders served in the regiment in the First World War. Around 1300 were killed in action, died of wounds or disease and another 2300 wounded – a casualty rate of 57 per cent. They are remembered in St John’s Newfoundland at the National War Memorial. 1 July is commemorated as Newfoundland’s ‘Anzac’ Day.

Royal Newfoundland Regiment –

The Gallipoli Dead

Turkey – Gallipoli

Azmak Cemetery, Suvla

Private Edward Bewhey, 19, killed in action 30/11/15.

Private James Michael Brown, 23, killed in action 3/12/15.

Private John Dunphy, 20, killed in action 12/12/15.

Private James Ellsworth, 26, killed in action, 4/11/15.

Private John   Fitzgerald, 31, Mentioned in Despatches, killed in action 1/12/15.

Private James Joseph Hynes, 19, killed in action 18/11/15.

Private George Samuel Knight, 21, killed in action 2/12/15.

Private Samuel Thomas Lodge, 23, killed in action 1/10/15.

Private William John Murphy, 29, killed in action 9/10/15.

Private Frederick Charles Roper, 19, killed in action 27/11/15.

Private James Joseph Tibbo, 20, killed in action 1/12/15.

Captain Charles Wighton, 35, killed in action 25/11/15.

Hill 10 Cemetery, Suvla

hill 10 2

Private Michael John Blyde, 19, killed in action 26/09/15.

Private David Michael Carew, 19, killed in action 7/10/15.

Lance Corporal Hubert Edgar Ebsary, 24, killed in action 1/12/15.

Private William Frank Hardy, 22, killed in action 23/09/15.

Private Samuel Hiscock, 20, killed in action 4/11/15.

Private Hugh Walter McWhirter, 21, killed in action 22/09/15.

Private Frank Roberts, 23, killed in action 23/10/15.

Private Josiah Squibb, 19, killed in action 19/10/15.

Lancashire Landing Cemetery, Helles

lancashire landing view

Private Robert Morris, 28, killed in action 7/01/16.                               .

Private George Simms, 27, killed in action 30/12/15.


Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery


Private William Joseph Collins, 27, 28/10/15

Private Frederick Columbus, 21, died 9/10/15

Private William Duke, 21, died 27/12/15.

Private John Macdonnel, 21, died 29/10/15.

Cairo War Memorial Cemetery


Private Frederick Ernest Ebsary, 19, died 23/09/15

Private Edward John Hoare, 25, died 14/06/16.

Private Allan Augustus Sellars, 20, 19/08/16.


East Mudros Military Cemetery

Private George Clarke, 19, died 24/11/15.

Private Walter Leonard Murphy, 19 died 29/09/15.

Lance Corporal Rupert King Watts,            21, died 27/09/15.

Portianos Military Cemetery

Private Ignatius Furey, 19, died 7/12/15.

Private John Myrick, 19, died 10/12/15.


Pieta Military Cemetery

Pieta Military Cemetery 1

Corporal Richard Fowlow, 23, died 23/11/1915.


Beaumont Hamel Memorial

beaumont hamel

Private John Hardy, 20, died 14/10/15.

Private William Patrick Miller, 38, died 17/10/15.

Private Joachim Murphy, 19, died 7/11/15.

Private Frederick Charles Somerton, 27, died 25/11/15.

Private Morley Soper, 26, died 29/12/15.

Lance Corporal Walter Tucker, 21, died 25/10/15.

Private John Francis Viscount, 20, died 30/10/15.

Some useful links

For Cheryl Ward’s terrific  play about First World War nurses Through These Lines, and for her  marvellous photographs, especially collages of Lemnos cemeteries.

Newfoundland background

Ed Roberts made the connection between the train accident and the Newfoundlanders.