‘We will remember them’

Pam Snow
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During the First World War, Newfoundland was a British Dominion and hundreds of young men eager to help with the war effort volunteered to go overseas and fight with the British against their enemies.

Approximately 50 soldiers from the Lewisporte area, young men full of ambition and determination, gave their lives for our freedom.

During 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, the Lewisporte area was an important base of operations for the Canadian Forces.

While conflicts were happening overseas, the military moved in on Lewisporte, placing guns in the hillsides as a defense against possible attacks.

A remote site at Wiseman’s Point was built between the communities of Porterville and Laurenceton to protect the port of Botwood, and army sites were built in Lewisporte to protect oil supply lines that are still in place today. These lines supplied fuel to Gander, a strategic location for flights headed to Europe.

The military also installed a diesel-driven lighting plant and a water system complete with water tower. After the war, council took over the utilities. By 1945, there were 150 families and a population of 821 in Lewisporte.

 The impact both World Wars had on the area is reflected in exhibits at the By The Bay Museum.

On display are several telegraphs informing the next of kin of men and women who went missing in action or were wounded and killed in battle. Also on display are the uniforms they wore, the equipment they used and the letters they sent home.

For approximately $30 a month, depending on rank and service, these men and women gave it their all.

“There were hundreds of other soldiers that were shot up, wounded and scarred physically and mentally for life after spending time in the battlefields in Europe,” said museum curator Barry Porter.

“We must remember those who were killed, but also those who survived.”

Many communities in the province have erected cenotaphs and other memorials for their war dead and veterans.

Hann’s Point, a lookout used by soldiers stationed in Lewisporte during the Second World War, has a plaque honouring those who died in an accidental explosion on June 25, 1942. The explosion killed five soldiers and injured 35 more.

The Town of Lewisporte’s war memorial is on town hall property and was erected by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 31.

In Norris Arm, the centrally located war memorial was put in place by the war memorial committee.

The first war memorial in Twillingate was actually the original Notre Dame Bay Memorial Hospital, as a push for construction of the hospital began at a public meeting held at the court house in 1918 as the First World War was coming to an end. In addition to filling the need for medical facilities, the hospital served as a memorial to the fallen.

In June 1921 construction began on the southside of Twillingate harbour and the hospital was officially opened on Sept. 20, 1924. Over the next 52 years, it served thousands. It was replaced by a modern facility in 1976, but kept its name.

After the old hospital was dismantled in 1981, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 21 began the process of having a war memorial erected on the site. It was unveiled on July 1, 1985. At all memorials in the region, a ceremony and wreath-laying is held on July 1 and Nov. 11.

 

The Pilot

Organizations: Canadian Forces.While, Royal Canadian Legion Branch, Notre Dame Bay Memorial Hospital

Geographic location: Lewisporte, Newfoundland, Porterville Botwood Europe.The Twillingate Europe Norris Arm

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  • Gerry Connors
    November 13, 2011 - 12:46

    I read on the 'net that the Lethbridge Altaberta Legion turned away military personnel from entering thier establishment because they did not have a membership?? Is this true?? If it is, then, just my opinion, they should be investigated by Legion command, their charter reviewed & as a last resort, possibly revoked....& yes, I am & have been for years a (different) Legion member...