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N.L. arts community deeply inspired by memory of Beaumont-Hamel


Actors Mark Critch and Allan Hawco have been friends for a long time, but realized the depth of their connection while shooting “Trail of the Caribou,” a film documenting the role of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in the First World War.

Their connection, in fact, goes back two generations; with Hawco’s great-uncle Walter Greene and Critch’s cousin J. J. Tobin, both soldiers who boarded the Florizel in St. John’s Oct. 3, 1914 and died in the same field in France Nov. 20, three years later.

“It turns out that two of our relatives enlisted together, fought side-by-side, were killed in the same battle an hour apart and ultimately were buried side-by-side,” Critch says. “We never knew any of it. That shows you how much this loss affected this place.”

Related stories:

Newfoundland at Armageddon

The First World War, first hand

In CBC’s “Trail of the Caribou,” Critch, Hawco and musician Alan Doyle follow the footsteps of the Regiment through Turkey, France and Belgium, learning about Beaumont-Hamel and other battles fought.

“To stand on the beach in Turkey where the Regiment first fought was overwhelming,” Critch says. “I was trying to get my head around what it was like for a young boy to leave his home around the bay and find himself on the beach fighting Turks.”

“Trail of the Caribou” had a private screening in St. John’s a couple weeks ago, and was shown at Cineplex theatres in St. John’s for a group of about 1,000 junior high school students. They were quiet for the whole thing, Critch says — as big a compliment as he’s ever gotten.

There will be a public screening of the film at Cineplex theatres Friday, and downtown June 27 as part of the REEL Downtown series. It will air on CBC TV July 1 at 9:30 p.m.

“Trail of the Caribou” is one of a number of arts-related projects dedicated to honouring the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the 100th anniversary of Beaumont Hamel this July 1.

 

Here are some others:

• “Military Moments: Battle of Beaumont-Hamel. Narrated by Gordon Pinsent, this commemorative video was created by military history magazine Legion and producer Adam Tindal. The video, which premiered at the Royal Canadian Legion convention in St. John’s, tells the story of the Regiment’s tragic advance at Beaumont Hamel. Watch it online at https://legionmagazine.com/en/2016/06/military-moments-beaumont-hamel/

 

• “Newfoundland at Armageddon,” a film by Barbara Doran and Brian McKenna, written by Michael Crummey and narrated by Alan Doyle. Twenty-one descendants of Regiment soldiers re-enact the experiences of their ancestors at Beaumont-Hamel, undergoing military training, eating rations, sleeping in tents and digging trenches before heading into battle. “Newfoundland at Armageddon” will air on CBC TV June 30 at 8:30 p.m.

 

• “Broken Hallelujah,” a song written by local songwriter/music producer Peter Daniel Newman about the Regiment’s near-decimation at the Battle of the Somme. “A rock’s throw from St. John’s Road/ Through the violence your mother calls you home/ Red stains your blue puttees/ as you’re crucified at the Danger Tree,” Newman’s lyrics go. Hear the song and see the video online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPPiyCsE5Dk

 

• Visual artist Peter Lewis’ “Beaumont-Hamel” painting depicts mixed sentiments about the 100th year anniversary of the battle and Newfoundland’s participation in it. In a palette of reds and blues, Lewis depicts the first 500 soldiers marching towards the Florizel, red poppies, and the statue of the caribou — the Regiment’s emblem — which stands today at Beaumont-Hamel and in Bowring Park. Lewis is selling 125 signed and numbered prints of the piece. More information is available online at www.peterlewisgallery.com.

 

•  “Newfoundland in the First World War,” a book by writer/researcher Jenny Higgins, published by Boulder Publications. The hardcover glossy book features a number of pull-outs: reproductions of actual documents found in archives, including letters and postcards to and from soldiers, a page from the Evening Telegram listing the names of the First 500, and a soldier’s pay book.

 

• Flanker Press has released a number of books in time for the 100th anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel, both fiction and non-fiction. It acquired the Canadian trade book rights to “Beaumont-Hamel: Newfoundland Park” by Nigel Cave. Originally published in England, the book outlines the creation of Newfoundland Park, trench park on the Western Front. “The Tin Triangle” is a novel by Linda Abbott following a Regiment soldier’s recruitment, training and first clash at Gallipoli before Beaumont-Hamel. “A Splendid Boy,” by Melanie Martin, is a fictional Regiment love story, where a soldier and his girlfriend, who followed him to Europe, are reunited for one night on the eve of the Battle of the Somme.

 

• “Ours” is a full-length opera commissioned by Opera on the Avalon. Written by Robert Chafe and composed by John Estacio, the piece tracks the aftermath of the battle of Beaumont-Hamel through the story of Thomas Nangle, chaplain to the Regiment. The opera will run July 1 and 2 at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre. Tickets and more details are available online at www.artsandculturecentre.com.

 

• The Ennis Sisters, tenor David Pomeroy and Shallaway Youth Choir will be among the performers as The Rooms officially opens its Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery July 1 (though the gallery will not be open to the public until the following day). Princess Anne will be attending the day-long tribute, which will begin at 12:45 p.m.

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Their connection, in fact, goes back two generations; with Hawco’s great-uncle Walter Greene and Critch’s cousin J. J. Tobin, both soldiers who boarded the Florizel in St. John’s Oct. 3, 1914 and died in the same field in France Nov. 20, three years later.

“It turns out that two of our relatives enlisted together, fought side-by-side, were killed in the same battle an hour apart and ultimately were buried side-by-side,” Critch says. “We never knew any of it. That shows you how much this loss affected this place.”

Related stories:

Newfoundland at Armageddon

The First World War, first hand

In CBC’s “Trail of the Caribou,” Critch, Hawco and musician Alan Doyle follow the footsteps of the Regiment through Turkey, France and Belgium, learning about Beaumont-Hamel and other battles fought.

“To stand on the beach in Turkey where the Regiment first fought was overwhelming,” Critch says. “I was trying to get my head around what it was like for a young boy to leave his home around the bay and find himself on the beach fighting Turks.”

“Trail of the Caribou” had a private screening in St. John’s a couple weeks ago, and was shown at Cineplex theatres in St. John’s for a group of about 1,000 junior high school students. They were quiet for the whole thing, Critch says — as big a compliment as he’s ever gotten.

There will be a public screening of the film at Cineplex theatres Friday, and downtown June 27 as part of the REEL Downtown series. It will air on CBC TV July 1 at 9:30 p.m.

“Trail of the Caribou” is one of a number of arts-related projects dedicated to honouring the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the 100th anniversary of Beaumont Hamel this July 1.

 

Here are some others:

• “Military Moments: Battle of Beaumont-Hamel. Narrated by Gordon Pinsent, this commemorative video was created by military history magazine Legion and producer Adam Tindal. The video, which premiered at the Royal Canadian Legion convention in St. John’s, tells the story of the Regiment’s tragic advance at Beaumont Hamel. Watch it online at https://legionmagazine.com/en/2016/06/military-moments-beaumont-hamel/

 

• “Newfoundland at Armageddon,” a film by Barbara Doran and Brian McKenna, written by Michael Crummey and narrated by Alan Doyle. Twenty-one descendants of Regiment soldiers re-enact the experiences of their ancestors at Beaumont-Hamel, undergoing military training, eating rations, sleeping in tents and digging trenches before heading into battle. “Newfoundland at Armageddon” will air on CBC TV June 30 at 8:30 p.m.

 

• “Broken Hallelujah,” a song written by local songwriter/music producer Peter Daniel Newman about the Regiment’s near-decimation at the Battle of the Somme. “A rock’s throw from St. John’s Road/ Through the violence your mother calls you home/ Red stains your blue puttees/ as you’re crucified at the Danger Tree,” Newman’s lyrics go. Hear the song and see the video online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPPiyCsE5Dk

 

• Visual artist Peter Lewis’ “Beaumont-Hamel” painting depicts mixed sentiments about the 100th year anniversary of the battle and Newfoundland’s participation in it. In a palette of reds and blues, Lewis depicts the first 500 soldiers marching towards the Florizel, red poppies, and the statue of the caribou — the Regiment’s emblem — which stands today at Beaumont-Hamel and in Bowring Park. Lewis is selling 125 signed and numbered prints of the piece. More information is available online at www.peterlewisgallery.com.

 

•  “Newfoundland in the First World War,” a book by writer/researcher Jenny Higgins, published by Boulder Publications. The hardcover glossy book features a number of pull-outs: reproductions of actual documents found in archives, including letters and postcards to and from soldiers, a page from the Evening Telegram listing the names of the First 500, and a soldier’s pay book.

 

• Flanker Press has released a number of books in time for the 100th anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel, both fiction and non-fiction. It acquired the Canadian trade book rights to “Beaumont-Hamel: Newfoundland Park” by Nigel Cave. Originally published in England, the book outlines the creation of Newfoundland Park, trench park on the Western Front. “The Tin Triangle” is a novel by Linda Abbott following a Regiment soldier’s recruitment, training and first clash at Gallipoli before Beaumont-Hamel. “A Splendid Boy,” by Melanie Martin, is a fictional Regiment love story, where a soldier and his girlfriend, who followed him to Europe, are reunited for one night on the eve of the Battle of the Somme.

 

• “Ours” is a full-length opera commissioned by Opera on the Avalon. Written by Robert Chafe and composed by John Estacio, the piece tracks the aftermath of the battle of Beaumont-Hamel through the story of Thomas Nangle, chaplain to the Regiment. The opera will run July 1 and 2 at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre. Tickets and more details are available online at www.artsandculturecentre.com.

 

• The Ennis Sisters, tenor David Pomeroy and Shallaway Youth Choir will be among the performers as The Rooms officially opens its Royal Newfoundland Regiment Gallery July 1 (though the gallery will not be open to the public until the following day). Princess Anne will be attending the day-long tribute, which will begin at 12:45 p.m.

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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