Da Legal Stuff...

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Canada, Return Newfoundland and Labrador's History

It seems that lately everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador has an axe to grind and all sorts of valid causes to take on. Every day we hear more and more about incidences of civil disobedience, organized protests, letter writing campaigns and online (or paper) petitions circulating in the province.

All of these efforts have one common element. They all require somone, or a group of someones, to step to the front and get the ball rolling. In the past months I’ve commented time and again on many of the current issues in the province and I’ve signed many of the petitions out there, in fact I promote some of them on my site, Web Talk. Now, after much soul searching, I have decided to take another step.

Just today I’ve decided to create and circulate a petition of my own. I guess it’s my turn to step up to the plate and focus on what I feel is an important cause, rather than just talking about it. Yes, I feel that the commentaries I make are important or I wouldn’t be writing them. I feel that the forum my site provides is important or I wouldn’t be doing that either. Neither of these truths is really the point though. The point is, is it enough? I don’t think so.

The biggest issue for me, being the outspoken sort that I am, was not the decision to make that initial plunge into openly soliciting signatures. It wasn’t putting myself on the line for a cause either, I do that every day in my articles. For most normal people these may have been tougher decisions. For me and other loud mouths like me, that’s second nature. No, the problem I had wasn’t deciding to stick my neck out, it was determining exactly which cause I should take on.

Here is where my love of communication came in. As a person who is addicted to the discussion of the social and political issues surrounding the Newfoundland and Labrador experience, whenever possible I devour news stories, read the commentaries of others and listen to the local open line programs. It was the latter that sparked my interest in my new found cause.

One night while listening to a local call in program I heard a gentleman relate to the moderator his feelings over the unfairness shown to Newfoundland and Labrador immediately after joining Confederation. This man eloquently spoke of how our rich military history had been stolen away by the Department of National Defense when Newfoundland and Canadian military forces merged on March 31, 1949.

I have no idea who this man was, and if he is out there I would appreciate it if he made contact with me, but I was touched by the fact that he not only knew so much about our history but that he felt so strongly about it.

He spoke of how one of the Victoria Cross medals won by a Newfoundlander in WWI was sitting in a museum in Ottawa while the other was on loan to a museum in Nova Scotia. Neither resided in the province itself.

He spoke of our great exploits in both world wars, the Crimean war, the war of 1812 and even the American Revolution. All of which happened while Newfoundland and Labrador was an independent entity and most definitely not a part of Canada.

This man touched me deeply in the passionate way he spoke of countless battles and inhumanly heroic exploits. His story of how one young soldier’s daily diary, kept during battle, was filed away somewhere in Ottawa, could not be ignored. How photographs and service records belonging to the Newfoundland and Labrador military had become the property of Canada as soon as pens cleared paper in 1949.

It was then that I made up my mind what my cause should be. What I should collect signatures for.

Simply put, the Return of Newfoundland and Labrador’s History.

Our children no longer learn about local history in our classrooms. Our veteran’s are becoming fewer and fewer every year. Newfoundland and Labrador’s rich history is slipping further and further into the mists of time.

Isn’t it time, 56 years after they were taken away, that these priceless historical relics should be returned to their rightful place. A place where they will be cherished by the descendants of those who fought and died? A place where future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans can view the rich history and culture that is so much a part of who we are.

In this, The Year of the Veteran, I make a rare request to all fair minded individuals out there to visit http://www.petitiononline.com/MILNL/petition.html and sign the petition you find there, or you can access it as a link on the left side of this page.

Newfoundland and Labrador are indeed a part of Canada, but is it right for the Country to expect Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans to forget their past in exchange for being a Canadian province? The Country has our present and most likely our future. Do they need to take our past as well?


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Patriot said...

Notice: The previous three comments were deleted primarily because they contained ads for products. I do not mind anyone promoting topics or sites related to the subject at hand, but I would prefer not to have the comments section used as a place for promoting products and services.


NL-ExPatriate said...

Blind Faith!

That is what our veterans (Newfoundland Regiment) had when they attacked at the Somme to their death. From an initial 801 men to the roll call the next day of 68.

This from your blog.


After the battle of the Somme, one report on the efforts of the Newfoundlander's, from the Divisional Commander stated, “It was a magnificent display of trained and disciplined valour, and its assault failed of success because dead men can advance no further.”

Blind Faith in their leaders, is what our valiant courageous men had. Too bad their leaders unbeknownst to them were actually British.
As far as the men were concerned their leaders were the brave men on the battle field in front of them leading the way, not the divisional commanders.

The way the military works, is you are only told as much information as is necessary for you to complete your task.

IE: Private trusts the Corporal, Corporal trusts the Lance Corporal, Lance corporal trusts the Sargent, Sargent trusts the Warrant Officer, Warrant officer trust the Sargent Major.

Sargent major trusts the Captain, Captain trusts the Major, Major trusts the Colonel, Colonel trusts the General, General trusts the commander, Commander trusts the Divisional commander, Divisional commander trusts the overall commander.

Not exactly as it is or was.

Our current democracy with Canada could be sunmmed up in a similal way.

People trust in municipal councillors.
Municipal councillors trust in their town mayor, Town mayor trusts in provincial MLA, MLA trusts provincial government, Provincial government trusts federal MLA's, Federal MLA's trust fedeal government to take care of their interests.

Once again not accurate as such but you get the idea.

My point being, is blind faith enough? Or do we need to empower the common man woman or child by informing ourselves and fighting for our own interests? Because if we leave it to blind faith we will be led to the slaughter at the expense of those we have faith in, to take care of our interests in this so called Democracy called Canada we chose to be apart of?

I will never advocate separation from Canada untill everything possible is done to make it right. That is to say this democracy we are apart of is a farce as it stands! IMHO

If you believe in Canada you will sign the petition for A triple E senate on the right of the page under petitions. It may not make everything perfect but it's a start to a better and fairer Democracy.

If we were to separate what form of government would we adopt?

The Canadian/British example. Or the American system where they take minimun 1 hour to fill in all of the referendum questions, vote for your senate and as An after thought vote for the party.

What was the last refendum question you voted on?

Please forgive me some discretion in my examples and government structures I'm not a political science graduate.

WJM said...

The military records were transferred to the federal government, which has jurisdiction over defence and veterans, as provided for in the Terms of Union, 33(f).

Tommy Ricketts' Victoria Cross medal was donated to the Canadian War Museum by his family. Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else has any business interfering with that donation.

Ed Hollett said...

Croke's VC was won while he served with a Nova Scotia regiment.

Rickett's VC was donated to the national museum after years of discussion. The family opted for Ottawa instead of St. John's for their own reasons but you should know the discussions on the national museum side were led by a Newfoundlander.

As for the rest of the post, we should look at how we trash our own history before we start ranting at Ottawa, yet again, on another, yet again non-existant "slight", "injury" or "theft".

NL-ExPatriate said...

Here is what I found at the national war museum after considerable searching.

The Victoria Cross and Sergeant Thomas Ricketts, V.C.

The Victoria Cross was instituted on February 5, 1856, with the first awards given to heroes of the Crimean War (1854-1856). One of the earliest recipients was Canadian- born Lieutenant Alexander Dunn, V.C., of the famed Charge of the Light Brigade.

Since its inception, the Victoria Cross has been awarded to 94 Canadians. Eight of these awards were for actions during the late nineteenth century and the South African War (1899–1902). The vast majority — 70 Victoria Crosses — were awarded for actions during the First World War (1914–1918) and sixteen were awarded for the Second World War (1939–1945). No Victoria Crosses have been awarded to Canadians since, and its issue was discontinued when Canada instituted its own awards for bravery and gallantry during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Victoria Cross was re-instituted in 1993 as Canada's highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy, and it is distinguished from the earlier British issue by the Latin words Pro Valore.

To date, none of the new Canadian Victoria Crosses have been awarded, and all of the 94 awards to Canadian recipients have been under the former British awards system. The Canadian War Museum has 26 Victoria Crosses, including one from the nineteenth century, 23 from the First World War, and two from the Second World War, in its collection. There is also a third Second World War Victoria Cross on loan from the family of Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, V.C., D.S.C.

One of the most recent donations to the Museum is a medal set awarded to Sergeant Thomas Ricketts, V.C. This set consists of the Victoria Cross, the British War Medal 1914–1918, the Victory Medal 1914–1919, and France's Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star.

Thomas Ricketts was born in Middle Arm, White Bay, Newfoundland, and by 1917 was fighting in France and Flanders with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. He was wounded in the leg at Cambrai, but soon returned to his regiment and went into the line near Ledeghem, Belgium on October 14, 1918. In one of the many small unit actions that day, a Newfoundland Lewis machine- gun crew was moving forward through the German defences. Having run out of ammunition and pressed by counterattacks, the crew was in a desperate situation. Private Tommy Ricketts volunteered to run across 100 yards of fire-swept field to gather more ammunition and supplies. Returning across the same dangerous ground, Ricketts and another soldier — the only two unwounded men in the section — advanced, capturing a number of field guns, machine-guns and German prisoners. For his uncommon valour, Ricketts was promoted to sergeant, and awarded the Victoria Cross, by King George V himself. At his investiture, King George introduced Ricketts to others in the room as "the youngest V.C. in my army".

The London Gazette (January 6, 1919) recorded the event as follows:

The attack was temporarily held up by heavy hostile fire and the platoon to which he belonged suffered severe casualties from the fire of a battery at point blank range.

Pte. Ricketts at once volunteered to go forward with his section commander and a Lewis gun to attempt to outflank the battery. Advancing by short rushes under heavy fire from enemy machine guns with the hostile battery, their ammunition was exhausted when still 300 yards from the battery. The enemy, seeing an opportunity to get their field guns away, began to bring up their gun teams. Pte. Ricketts, at once realizing the situation, doubled back 100 yards under the heaviest machine gun fire, procured further ammunition, and dashed back again to the Lewis gun, and by very accurate fire drove the enemy and the gun teams into a farm.

His platoon then advanced without casualties, and captured the four field guns, four machine guns and eight prisoners.

A fifth field gun was subsequently intercepted by fire and captured.

Following the war, Ricketts returned to Newfoundland, studied pharmacy, and eventually opened a business on Water Street in St. John's. He was given a state funeral when he died in 1967, and today a commemorative plaque marks the site of his pharmacy in St. John's.

Sergeant Thomas Ricketts, V.C. was only seventeen when he was awarded the Victoria Cross, making him the youngest army recipient ever to win this important military honour.


NL-ExPatriate said...

Croke, John Bernard

Croke, John Bernard, soldier (b at Little Bay, Nfld 18 May 1892; d near Amiens, France 9 Aug 1918). At an early age Croke moved with his family to Glace Bay, NS, where he later worked in the coal mines. During WWI he served with the 13th Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Quebec Regiment and was recognized and honoured for valour on 8 August 1918 during the opening stage of the Battle of AMIENS. Croke was the posthumous recipient of the first Victoria Cross awarded a Newfoundlander. Single-handedly, he bombed a machine-gun nest and captured the crew and gun. Despite a severe wound, he rejoined his platoon and led a charge into a trench line, capturing 3 guns and the garrison. Again he was severely wounded, and died shortly after.


August 8

1918 For capturing a machine gun nest while severely injured, John Croke became the first Newfoundlander to win the
Victoria Cross.

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