The Evening Telegram
25th Jan 1952
Capt. Byrne, M.C.
You are now resting in the Great Unknown,
We wait, old Comrade, till we meet our own;
The years pass by and shed their fragrant hours,
And time will turn our waiting into flowers,
Of Memory and Beauty.
From the secluded atmosphere of Brother Strupp's classroom in St. Bonaventure's
College to an open grave
beneath the January sky is a far cry, but these are our memories aroused by
the sad tidings of the death of yet
another gallant comrade - Capt. Gerald G. Byrne, M.C.
Just after he completed his education in our Alma Mater, he was appointed to
a position in the Supreme Court,
which he held until he enlisted with a large proportion of the C.C.C., when
the first call came to the colours in
He went overseas with the "Blue Puttees", his number being
340, attached to "B" company, he served at
Gallipoli, suffering from frost-bite at Suvla, then he was admitted to hospital
at Malta, and later went to France
where he was wounded at Beaumont-Hamel as a Sergeant, July 1st 1916. The same
date on which he was
commissioned as Second Lieutenant. He was at the Depot in Ayr until January
1917, when he re-joined the
B.E.F. Here we renewed the old associations of previous years. The Newfoundland
Regiment was holding a
front line position at Sailly-Saillisel. There was continuous enemy activity
and on one occasion a party, which I
brought to the trenches, sustained 50 casualties out of 57 men. It was a great
relief to us when in the grey dawn
of the morning Lieut. Byrne came around the traverse to take over with Capt.
It was in this section, a few hours later, that the enemy advanced on either
side and during the engagement
which followed, Jerry organized a bombing squad and drove them out. He was
awarded the Military Cross for
this episode. 13 Newfoundlanders were killed in the action and 29 wounded.
A week later he went to hospital,
was invalided to England, and returned to Ayr, where he was promoted to Lieutenant
on August 31st.
Embarking for Newfoundland, he was appointed Military Secretary to the Minister
of Militia in October. The
late Col. W.F. Rendell being then Chief Staff Officer. A Captain in September
1919, he was seconded for duty
with the civil re-establishment committee, in 1919 assisted in the direction
of relief work afterwards, and then
became associated with the Newfoundland Tourist Bureau.
Capt. Byrne entered politics as colleague of the late F.C. Alderdice, with
whom he was elected in the
constituency of St. John's East; He was re-elected in 1932 with the late Sir
E.L. Emerson. He was appointed to
the superintendency of H.M. Penitentiary, from which he retired several years
ago, and on the declaration of
WW II undertook the responsibilities of director of recruiting in the early
He had been noticeably in failing health for some little time, and his old
associates missed his cheerful voice,
good humour and straight-forward conversation. Jerry was notably popular in
the G.W.V.A. where he served
for such a long period on the Dominion Command, and "Toc H" where
he took an active interest. There is no
doubt the passing of his wife (the former Mrs. Pilot) materially assisted with
the ravages of overseas experience
to hasten his end, and it is no mere sentimental touch that he was a welcome
figure in a group of those who
looked with reverence and respect on the days that were of the comradeship
of the trenches, of the human
element in times of trial and distress and to whom the wave of the hand was
more than a gesture.
In expressing sympathy to those who survived, we speak for his old college
friends, for the unfailing loyalty of
those who faced death together, for the memories which can never die; for Jerry
Byrne was a true
"O you and our fathers before us
Guarded the peace that was ever our way
Fought for the love of our valleys and hills
This is our tribute to you we now pay"
"Reprinted courtesy of The Telegram"
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