Tag Archives: Commemoration Day

Battle of Beaumont Hamel

One of our members sent in this single page from the July 2007 branch newsletter.

Click on the image to access a PDF version of this article

Note that the Battle of Beaumont Hamel is remembered each July 1st in Newfoundland and Labrador with a Commemoration Day (also known as Memorial Day) service.  This past Canada Day, Branch 25 also hosted our own Commemoration Day Virtual Service.

Legion Magazine – A Virtual Memorial Day Service

Our own branch was featured in the recent issue of the Legion Magazine for one of our virtual services.

Click here on on the image to enlarge.

For a PDF version, click legion-magazine_janfeb21.pdf

The service in question was the Commemoration Day/Memorial Day one we hosted on 01 July 2020. To view that service, click here.

Bringing a Commemoration (Memorial) Day Service to San Francisco

Note this item which has been posted to the Downhome website.

Bringing a Commemoration (Memorial) Day Service to San Francisco

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As November is the month that we traditionally turn our attention to the act of remembrance, I wanted to share a story of how I was able to bring a bit of Newfoundland tradition to the Canadian community in California. Four years ago when I relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was one of fourteen areas in the United States that has a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. As an Associate Member of the Legion for 18 years at that point, I quickly transferred my membership to US Branch #25 and began attending meetings. It wasn’t long before I had the opportunity to take a leadership role in the branch (and later at the International Western Zone USA level), and being a proud Newfoundlander I wanted to bring a piece of my home province to the veterans community throughout California.

As the branch had been doing outreach with other Canadian and Commonwealth organizations in the area, I saw opportunities for the Royal Canadian Legion to get involved. On behalf of the branch, I became the Poppy Chair and facilitated the distributed of thousands of poppies to Canadian ex-pat organizations and Canadian owned businesses throughout Northern California. I also began representing the branch at the annual ANZAC Day service in April that was organized by various Australian and New Zealand groups in San Francisco. In 2018 I was even given the opportunity to speak about the involvement of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in Gallipoli (as 25 April was chosen as ANZAC Day honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who served in the Gallipoli Campaign).

Then came the pandemic… And everything stopped, including all of the activities of Royal Canadian Legion US Branch #25! Now the Legion has been active in the San Francisco Bay Area community for more than 80 years. While the branch is a relatively small these days, with only about 40 members and no physical location, it continues to strive to be active in veterans and remembrance activities. When the closure began in March our members watched as the annual inspection of a local division of Sea Cadets that they had been sponsoring for the past 25 years was cancelled. Then March became April, and then May, and the annual ANZAC Day events and our US Memorial Day service were both cancelled. By June, the branch had cancelled is third monthly membership meetings and planning to commemorate for the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter, which occurred in San Francisco, was postponed indefinitely.

In late May or early June a Canadian ex-pat organization called the Digital Moose Lounge contacted me to see if the branch wanted to participate in the virtual Canada Day celebration that they were planning. As a native Newfoundlander, I saw an opportunity to bring a bit of Newfoundland culture to the Canadian community in the Bay Area and throughout California. As readers of the Downhome are aware, in addition to being Canada Day, July 1 is also Memorial or Commemoration Day in Newfoundland and Labrador – a day when we remember the tragic events of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel. To honour that tradition, and as a way to begin to engage both the members of our the branch and our local cadets again, I sought to create a virtual sunrise service for Memorial Day.

Over the next few weeks I reached out to friends and family to find Newfoundland and Labrador performers – many of whom were living outside of the province – to record themselves singing national anthems, playing the Last Post and other traditional remembrance pieces, and providing components of the service. The response was amazing, and even included the local Canadian Consul General in San Francisco and Newfoundland’s representative in the federal cabinet (who was also the former Minister of Veterans Affairs). Additionally, members of both US Branch #25 and all of the branches of the International Western Zone USA, as well as our local U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps-Arkansas Division sent in videos. The Legion Magazine even gave us permission to use their “Military Moments: Battle of Beaumont-Hamel,” which is narrated by Newfoundlander Gordon Pinsent, as a part of the service.

At 6am local time on Canada Day, US Branch #25 of the Royal Canadian Legion hosted almost 50 attendees in a virtual sunrise service. The service was repeated at 10am for another 25 people who were unable to brave the early hour of the initial viewing. The service is still available online at https://royalcanadianlegionus25.com/2020/07/01/commemoration-day-virtual-service/ for anyone to watch. As a former social studies teacher at Discovery Collegiate in Bonavista, it was just my way of educating my fellow ex-pats about a bit of Newfoundland and Labrador history.

Michael Barbour Vacaville, CA

Original item at https://www.downhomelife.com/widgets/single_image.php?itemid=97605

Commemoration Day Virtual Service

The video that was played on loop prior to the service was available at https://youtu.be/NuPx3G5v0hU

The program for today’s service is available by clicking here.

All images and videos used during the ceremony were either original, open source, or were used with permission.

Open source images included:

Thank you to Legion Magazine for permission to include their “Military Moment” on the Battle of Beaumont Hamel.  The original video is available at https://legionmagazine.com/en/2016/06/military-moments-beaumont-hamel/

Thank you to YouTube user dog5011 for permission to include their “Sunrise Timelapse – San Francisco.”  The original video is available at https://youtu.be/JY9wocfTkto

Thanks to our special guest speakers and performers:

Finally, I want to thank all of the members of US Branch #25 and the other branches in the US Western Zone of the Royal Canadian Legion, as well as members of our U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps – Arkansas Division, that provided individual videos that made up this service.

For those interested in additional information on the history of Beaumont Hamel and Commemoration Day (a.k.a., Memorial Day), please visit:

Finally, you can view the service that was recorded at the National War Memorial St. John’s, Newfoundland this morning at https://www.facebook.com/NLRCL/videos/2569151683302127/

[Final Reminder] Royal Canadian Legion – US Branch #25 Commemoration Day Virtual Service

You are invited to attend the Commemoration Day Sunrise Service that is being organized by the Royal Canadian Legion – US Branch #25, representing the San Francisco Bay Area, in partnership with the Digital Moose Lounge and Canadians in Orange County.

Commemoration Day 2020

While July 1st is a day of celebration in most of Canada, for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador it is also a day for sombre remembrance. In Newfoundland and Labrador the first of July is also Commemoration Day (also known as Memorial Day), when we remember the tragically destructive events of July 1st, 1916.

The first of July 1916 was the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, when 806 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment climbed out of their trenches and went “over the top” at 8:45am as part of the battle of Beaumont-Hamel. In less than an hour, the regiment was devastated, most killed or wounded within the first 20 minutes of the battle. The next morning, only 68 soldiers answered roll call. Commemoration Day was established in 1917, just one year later.

After Confederation with Canada, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador continued the tradition of Commemoration Day during the morning of July 1st, and reserved the remainder of the day to celebrate Canada Day. To honour this tradition, US Branch #25 of the Royal Canadian Legion, representing the San Francisco Bay Area, will be hosting their own Commemoration Day service.

The service will be broadcast via Zoom at two times – 6am and 10am – on Wednesday, 01 July 2020 and will last approximately 45 minutes.

Advanced registration is required.

To register for either of the broadcasts, please visit:

6:00 AM Pacific Time (Sunrise Service)

10:00 AM Pacific Time (Replay)

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

We thank you in advance for your participation in this remembrance.

Michael K. Barbour
First Vice Commander, US Western Zone
Vice President, US Branch #25
Royal Canadian Legion