Thirty-two soldiers from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, including the unit’s band, helped commemorate the 200th anniversary of one of the largest naval battles of the War of 1812 last Tuesday.
© — Photo by Warrant Officer Jerry Kean, 5th Canadian Division Public Affairs
Sgt. Douglas Ballam and Pte.Emma Clark, of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Band, pay their respects after laying a wreath at the tomb of three American and three British fallen Officers from the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie.
It was on Sept. 10 in 1813 that nine vessels of the United States Navy captured six vessels of the British Royal Navy off the coast of Ohio in the Battle of Lake Erie. The ceremony in Ohio included a performance by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Band.
“It was certainly one of the highlights of my military career,” said Cpl. Steven Donegran of the regiment’s band. “Playing ‘Last Post’ onboard the tall ship Niagara as we tossed a wreath into the waters of Lake Erie to remember all the sailors who perished 200 years ago, it was very moving.”
The ceremony was organized by the United States National Parks Service at the 107-metre-high Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument, which towers over Lake Erie.
Below the floor of the monument there’s a mausoleum that contains the remains of three American officers and three British officers. One of these men is Lt. James Garden of the Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry, sometimes referred to as the Newfoundland Fencibles, and the predecessor of today’s regiment.
“We feel honoured to have been asked to travel from St. John’s to Ohio and participate in this event,” said Sgt. Jim Prowse, a member of the regiment’s band and one of the organizers of the trip. “Two hundred years ago our fellow Newfoundlanders travelled the same distance to fight, and in some cases, died in this key battle of the War of 1812.”
By the Sept. 10, 1813 battle, about 100 Newfoundlanders were employed as marines aboard the British ships. Fourteen Newfoundland soldiers were killed in the battle and a further 25 were wounded.
“We were a small part of the entire ceremony, but we’ve received a lot of appreciation from the tourists and the American National Parks Service,” said Prowse. “I only wish more of the Regiment could have come with us and been part of this amazing event.”