Lt. Col. Mathias & Maj. Bernard

Lieutenant Colonel T.G. Mathias
Major Adolph E. Bernard, M.C.
Royal Newfoundland Regiment

Life is made up of meetings and partings, and we, who served side but side in the Great War, shall ever bear the memories of bitter partings from good and better friends. Those who have died have welded us together with unbreakable bonds, and it is up to those of use who are left to stand firm together.

 (A.E. Bernard, The Veteran, 1920)

Born on 12 August 1878, Thomas Gilbert Mathias had been commissioned with the Welsh Regiment since 1899. On 27 June 1918, he transferred to Royal Newfoundland Regiment to relieve Major A.E. Bernard, who had temporarily replaced Lieutenant Colonel J.S. Woodruffe. Mathias remained in command until the armistice when he was succeeded by Bernard, the first Newfoundlander to officially lead the regiment.

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Lt. Col. Woodruffe

Lieutenant Colonel J.S. Woodruffe, D.S.O.
Royal Newfoundland Regiment

The new C.O., who soon gained the respect of all ranks, was with the Battalion for only six months. As might be expected, he was not the first British officer to find in the Regiment certain preferences, particularly in the matter of diet, which were unfamiliar to him.

 When invited to sample some capelin – the small, smelt-like fish which a true native of the island enjoys nibbling in an uncooked state after it has been salted, dried, and smoked – “our C.O. … tasted a bit and it nearly made him sick!”

 (G.W.L. Nicholson, Fighting Newfoundlander, 441)

On 1 January 1918, John Sheldon Woodruffe of the Royal Sussex Regiment assumed command of the Newfoundland Regiment, which had just been granted the Royal designation by the King. He was born in Hastings, Sussex, England on 2 February 1879. He had been commissioned in the Royal Sussex Regiment since 1899 and served in the Boer War.

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Lt. Col. Forbes-Robertson

Lieutenant Colonel J. Forbes-Robertson, V.C
Newfoundland Regiment
Forbes Robertson

Later on the same day, when troops to the left of his line were giving way, he went to that flank and checked and steadied the line, inspiring confidence by his splendid coolness and disregard for personal danger. His horse was wounded three times and he was thrown five times.

 (Victoria Cross citation, London Gazette, 21 May 1918, 6057)

Born in West Yorkshire on 7 July 1884, James Forbes-Robertson was second-in-command of the Newfoundland Regiment and became acting commanding officer during Lieutenant Colonel Arthur L. Hadow’s sick leave from November 1916 until May 1917.

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Lt. Col. Hadow

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur L. Hadow
Newfoundland Regiment

Although I am not a Newfoundlander I have always tried to identify myself with your interests & throughout I have always been activated solely by the question of efficiency & the honour of Regiment.

 Should I be spared & survive this war I shall look forward to the day when I am able to visit Newfoundland & renew the many friendships which I have made, & to see the country about which I have heard so much.

(Lt-Col. Hadow to minister of militia, 10 Feb 1918)

Born in England on 25 October 1877, Arthur Lovell Hadow was a long-serving British regular officer with tours of duty in Tibet, India, South Africa, Congo, and Sudan. In December 1915, he was selected to take over the Newfoundland Regiment following the wounding of Lieutenant Colonel R. de H. Burton. One soldier remembered the notorious disciplinarian: “Our Colonel now was Hadow, a son of a bitch who was over troops in India all his life. Thought common soldiers were dogs or something. But we taught him different.”

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Lt. Col. Burton

Lieutenant Colonel R. de H. Burton
Newfoundland Regiment
de H Burton

Lt Col. Burton was also with them and he was looking remarkable well and his hand was now quite well though one of his fingers has been slightly bent. He said he was pleased to be among us again, and I must say he certainly looked it.

(Lt. O.W. Steele, diary, 11 Jan 1916)

Born in England on 8 September 1861, Reginald de Hardwicke Burton, was a former major with the Middlesex Regiment and Boer War veteran. He had been severely wounded at the Battle of Spion Kop in January 1900 and was placed on retired army pay in 1909. On 13 November 1914, he came out of retirement to take command of the Newfoundland Regiment. In August 1915, the unit left England for Egypt before deploying to the Gallipoli Front.

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Lt. Col. Clegg

Lieutenant Colonel E.B. Clegg
Newfoundland Regiment & 9th Reserve Battalion

While I have no wish to make comparisons, I believe that they are not surpassed by any unit in the camp for all round smartness on parade, steadiness in the ranks and general intelligence, while their physical fitness appears to be excellent.

 Newfoundland may be proud of her sons; they will no doubt give a good account of themselves, should they get into the stress of war.

(Lt-Col. Clegg to Governor Walter E. Davidson, 4 Nov 1914)

Edward Boucher Clegg was born in Peterborough, Canada West on 16 November 1864. He had served in the militia for thirty-one years and commanded the 57th Peterborough Rangers. On arrival in England with the First Contingent in October 1914, he was assigned as temporary commanding officer of the 500-man strong Newfoundland Regiment.

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Lt. Col. Franklin

Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Franklin, D.S.O.
Newfoundland Regiment and 1/6th Royal Warwick Regiment

One gets heartily sick of this kind of fighting & the conditions are very trying. The line is much livelier the past 4 weeks & it looks as if the Germans would try one more big effort on this front soon, hope they will, as it would make our job easier. We are not far from the Somme so the past 2 weeks have been more trying.

 The present policy seems to be nightly raids from both sides. So far we have succeeded much better than the enemy at this game. I wish I had the Nflds were as they would be splendid at that kind of work.

 (Maj. W.H. Franklin to Governor Walter E. Davidson, 4 Feb 1916) 

Born in Lancashire, England in 1871, William Hodgson Franklin had immigrated to St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1891 and helped to organize a regiment on the outbreak of the Great War. He was commissioned as a captain but on arrival in England in October 1914, he transferred to the 1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. He deployed to France as a major with the 6th Battalion, Royal Warwick Regiment in March 1915. After a year, he assumed command of the battalion.

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