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The village of Beaumont-Hamel, in northern France, was one of the fortress villages located just behind the German lines during the Battle of the Somme. It was here, on July 1st 1916, one of the most destructive battles of World War One took place where nearly an entire regiment of the Canadian Army was wiped out.

On the morning of July 1st 1916 the 1st Newfoundland Regiment of the Canadian Army was ordered into battle as part of the opening phase of the Battle of the Somme. Their assignment was to seize control of the German trenches near the village of Beaumont Hamel. It was a strategically difficult assignment. The German front lines were about 300 to 500 meters away from where the Newfoundland Regiment was stationed, down a grassy slope and heavily guarded by a three-tiered system of well dug forward trenches shielded with extensive protective wire, that presented a formidable obstacle to any attacking force. Besides, the Germans knew when an attack was going to start.

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The battlefield of Beaumont-Hamel is still pockmarked with craters and trenches. Photo credit: Michael St. Maur Sheil

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