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June 9, 2006
(Executive Council)

Province to fund Royal Newfoundland Regiment to travel to Beaumont Hamel

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister John Ottenheimer said today government is proud to contribute $110,000 to assist the complete complement of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment to participate in the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Somme commemorative ceremonies at Beaumont Hamel, France.

Minister Ottenheimer said the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont Hamel holds extraordinary significance for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and the 90th anniversary will be a major international event with many nations and dignitaries participating.

"Of the 801 members of the 1st Newfoundland Regiment who fought at Beaumont Hamel only 68 answered the roll call on the following day. It was truly a devastating day for the men who fought so bravely and for Newfoundland and Labrador," said Minister Ottenheimer. "This funding is a tribute to those who fought and died that day to preserve democracy and restore peace to the world."

The Royal Newfoundland Regiment is scheduled to participate in July 1 events at Beaumont Hamel and hold commemorative ceremonies at Monchy-Le Preux; Gueudecourt; Masnieres; and Courtrai.

Veterans Affairs Canada formally invited Premier Danny Williams to join their delegation to Beaumont Hamel. The Premier will be laying a wreath and speaking on behalf of the province during ceremonies at Beaumont Hamel and the Monchy-Le Preux.

The Department of Municipal Affairs will also fund their annual trip to Beaumont Hamel that includes a group of four veterans, four students and two chaperones.

"We are pleased to be sending such a strong delegation from Newfoundland and Labrador to this ceremony and are proud to stand with the rest of the world and mark the significance of that battle," Minister Ottenheimer said. The minister said Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a proud history and devotion to honouring the events at Beaumont Hamel.

"Although July 1 is now synonymous with Canada Day Celebrations, it also Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador, a day to commemorate the contributions of the members of the Newfoundland Regiment who fought and died during the opening day of the Battle of the Somme," the minister said. "Government recognizes the sacrifices of all veterans and supports our armed forces and the contributions they make to serving our country and protecting freedom throughout the world."

Minister Ottenheimer presented the cheque on behalf of Premier Williams today at Confederation Building to Colonel Kevin Hutchings, chair of the France and Flanders 2006 Pilgrimage committee and Gary Browne, chair of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council. Captain Michael Pretty, Adjutant, First Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment was unable to attend today�s event.

Media contact: Bill Hickey, Communications, (709) 729-6985, 691-6390


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