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Compiled by Peggy (Gale) Bennett
Transcribed by Ron St. Croix
History of the Old Royal Newfoundland Regiment
Did Service on Canadian Frontier Over Century Ago
(By J.R. MacNicol, M.P.)
A Canadian visitor to St. Johns, Newfoundland should not fail to view the century and a quarter old frazzled flags of the historic Royal Newfoundland Regiment that played such a glorious part in 1812-14 in helping to maintain Canada as a part of the British Empire. These flags are now on display in the National Museum in St. Johns. A card beneath them states that it was in 1922 that the flags were returned to Newfoundland from the ancient Church of St. Brelade, Jersey Island, in which church they had been deposited many years ago by a descendant of Col. Elias Pipon, one of the regiments earliest commanders and into whose possession the flags had fallen on one of the early disbandments of the regiment. The flags were discovered in St. Brelades by a party of Newfoundland school teachers on a visit to the Channel Islands. Newfoundlanders are justly proud of the these flags behind which their ancestors marched. And Canadians may well be humbly and deeply grateful for the valor and heroism displayed by that famous Regiment in the battles of Detroit, Frenchtown, Fort Meigs, Lake Erie, Fort Erie, Fort George, York and Ogdensburg, for its support in these engagements was invaluable.
History of the Regiment
A colonial British regiment was raised in 1750, half of the members being from Placentia, Newfoundland and the other half from Halifax, Nova Scotia for the protection of British settlers and interests in America. A battalion was raised in Newfoundland in 1775 that materially assisted in that year in the defense of Quebec against Montgomery. Thus the patriotic spirit being strong, one, Col. Skinner, on being ordered to do so in 1794, had little difficulty in raising a regiment of Newfoundland Fencibles. In 1799 the regiment was apparently transferred to Halifax as the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. That the regiment served at Royal Annapolis, NS in 1806 in indicated by the inscription on a tombstone in the ancient Annapolis Cemetery which reads:
Ensign George Audley of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment
Who died the 25th day of May, 1806 In the 30th year of his Age
This stone is placed by his Brother Officers
As a testimony of their friendship and esteem.
In 1812 the British Government, having determined that the then anticipated attack of the Americans would fall on Upper Canada instead of on Halifax, ordered the regiment to Quebec. It is recorded that General Sir Isaac Brock met the regiment at Quebec. As many Newfoundlanders came from the Channel Islands, and Brock himself being a Guernsey Island man, it is not much wonder that several companies of the regiment were taken to Upper Canada, presumably by Brock, where they served with such marked distinction in the engagements previously mentioned. A glance at the map indicates what a long and arduous journey they made from their homes in Newfoundland to the far off fields on the Detroit frontier. Long may Canadians remember the timely support given by their brothers from the ancient Colony in those troublesome times.
The flags are faded and tattered, but it can be seen that in their original state they were very beautiful. In the beginning, the Jack may have been regular, but the ancient flag in the Museum is, as indicated; that is, a white center and a white end to the red cross of St. George and with a crown super-imposed. The Battalion flag, very faded today, must have been exceptionally attractive. Its blue field with the wreath of shamrocks, roses and thistles, all delicately entwined around the regimental name, golden lion and crown, give it a distinctiveness all its own.
The achievements of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment occupy a proud place in Canadas glorious history.
Military Records Contact: Daniel B. Breen
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