Official Report to His Excellency From Lieut Colonel Hadow
Telling of the Part the Newfoundland Regiment Took in the Battle of July 1st, 1916
I have the honour to forward here with the following report on the part the Regiment took in the recent battle. We had been making preparations for this battle for some time, as part of the -----------. Our Brigade had been allotted a definite task in this battle, for which we went through special training. On the day of battle, owing to the altered state of this conditions, we were given a different task.
On the night of June 30th and July 1st we marched 8 miles from our billets to our allotted position in the trenches. Our actual strength was 26 officers and 783 other ranks. In addition 14 officers and 75 other ranks and also the transport were left behind as reinforcements and for special duties in accordance with orders received. We reached our position in the trenches about 2 a.m. on the morning of July 1st.
A steady bombardment of our artillery had commenced on the morning of June 24th and was continued day and night. On the morning of July 1st from 6 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. an intense bombardment took place, and the assault by the two other Brigades of this division took place at 7.30 a.m. Our pre-arranged orders were to move forward to our objective at 8.50 a.m. About 8.20 a.m. I received orders that in conjunction with another Battalion we were to advance and occupy the first system of enemy trenches, which had not been completely taken by the other two Brigades. I at once sent for the Company Commanders and explained the situation and gave them the order to advance. Without the slightest hesitation the Regiment jumped out of the trenches and advanced to the attack of the enemies trenches, which lay at a varying distance. ( See note. 1.)
The moment we left our trenches, a terrific machine gun fire was turned on us, and then shell fire in addition, and men began falling at once. In spite of this murderous fire the Regiment moved steadily forward at a rapid pace without flinching, and were quickly mown down. In spite of terrible losses, some officers and men actually reached the enemy’s trenches before they fell( See note 2).
The whole thing was over very quickly and at 9.45 a.m. I reported the situation to Brigade Headquarters. I then went back to our front trench to try and get in touch with any survivors, but heavy fire from the enemy was kept up, and then commenced an intensive bombardment by the enemy of our trenches with heavy artillery.
By next morning only some – men had answered their names the Adjutant ( Capt. Raley) and myself being the only surviving officers. It takes some time completing the causality return, but you will doubtless receive the names by cable long before you get this letter. I deeply deplore the losses , but it will be some consolation to the people of Newfoundland to know that nothing could have been finer than the manner in which the Regiment steadily advanced in the face of this appalling fire, which simply swept the men away.
The Corps Commander. Lieut. Gen. Sir A. Hunter-Weston, visited us today, and addressed the Regiment. He was full of praise for their magnificent conduct.
During the day of the battle the officers and men who had been kept in reserve came up to the trenches. Two of these officers were wounded and also the Quartermaster. ( See note 3.)
We came out of the trenches yesterday, the 6th instant, and are now in billets, but still within range of the enemy’s heavy artillery and to-day Lieut. Steele was severely wounded by a shell. ( See note 4.)
We have already commenced the work of reorganizing and I hope soon to receive some drafts so that we can get ready to take the field again.
For myself, I can only say that I am proud to command such officers and men, and I would request you to convey on my behalf to those who are mourning the loss of their sons my deepest sympathy, and to assure them that nothing could have been finer than the gallant manner in which they met their death.
Our total losses in the battle as far as they can be ascertained at present are:-
(See note 5)
On the night of June 25th prior to the battle we made an organized raid on the German trenches. The party consisted of 50 men under command of Capt. Butler, together with Lieut. Strong and 2nd Lieut. Greene. The raid failed, and we were ordered to repeat it on the night of the 27th ( See note 6.)
Although the second raid did not achieve its object
owing to the German trench being strongly held, the party was most
gallantly led by Capt. Butler right up to the enemy’s trenches where a fight
with bombs took place and the party only retired after all the officers
had been wounded, some 6 men killed and 13 wounded.
I have e.t.c.
Commanding 1st Nfld. Regt.
Sir Walter Davidson, K.C.M.G. Governor of Nfld.
Notes by the Governor
This dispatch has passed the Chief Censor and its publication is authorized in this present form. There is nothing omitted which has any local interest.
Note 1. – The hour of the order to advance is written 9.45. It was probably not later than 9.15.
Note 2.- Some officers and men who actually reached the enemy’s trenches but who fell, are entered among the missing but are probably wounded and prisoners, and will be well cared for.
Note 3.- These two officers wounded in the trenches in reserve cannot be identified, but the names have been published. Capt. and Quartermaster Summers died of wounds July 16th.
Note 4.- Lieut. Owen Steele died of his wounds on July 8th.
Note 5.- The official return at present is:-
These figures, including 95 N.C.O’s and men unwounded, makes a total of 783, the number of men who took part in the charge.
The list of missing is composed entirely of those who charged right up to the enemy’s trenches and who took cover in shell craters or hollows. It is probable that most of these are wounded and are in the enemy’s hands. They will be well treated in enemy hospitals, as the German’s have learnt inhumanity to the wounded is a disgrace.
Note 6.- Capt. Butler, wounded slightly, remained on duty. Lieut. Strong, wounded June 28, doing well, 2nd Lieut. Greene, bomb wound legs, June 28, doing well.
Note 7.- It is impossible to distinguish the killed and wounded on the 28th from the others. They are probably those reported in Telegram No. 303 of July 4th.
Source: The Daily News, July 29, 1916