Better Than the Best

Letter from Sir Douglas Haig, Lieut. General in command of the Corps, to the Government of Newfoundland concerning his appreciation of the Regiment’s splendid courage and determination on July 1, 1916

“That battalion covered itself with glory on July 1st by the magnificent way in which it carried out the attack entrusted to it. It went forward to the attack when two other attacks on that same part of the line had failed, and by its behaviour on that occasion it showed itself worthy of the highest traditions of the British race, and proved itself to be a fit representative of the population of the oldest British colony. When the order to attack was given every man moved forward to his appointed objective in his appointed place as if on parade. There were no waverers, no stragglers, and not a man looked back. It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault only failed of success because dead men can advance no farther. They were shot down by machine guns brought up by a very gallant foe under our intense artillery fire. Against any foe less well entrenched, less well organized, and above all, less gallant, their attack must have succeeded. As it was the action of the Newfoundland Battalion and the other units of the British left contributed largely to the victory achieved by the British and French farther south by pinning to their ground the best of the German troops and by occupying the majority of their artillery, both heavy and field. The gallantry and devotion of this battalion, therefore was not in vain, and the credit of victory belongs to them as much as to those troops farther south who actually succeeded in breaking the German line. I should like you to let my fellow citizens of the Empire in the Oldest Overseas portion of the British Realm know how well their lads have done, both officers, non-commissioned officers and men, and how proud I, as their Corps Commander, am to have had such a battalion under my command, and to be a comrade in arms of each and all of them. Newfoundlanders, I salute you! You are better than the best.”


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