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The Telegram Obituaries
January 1952

 

 

The Evening Telegram
25th Jan 1952

Capt. Byrne, M.C.
[L.C.M.]

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 September, 1914. 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. Butler. 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 stages.
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 Newfoundlander:
"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"
Any monetary or commercial gain from using this material
is strictly prohibited and subject to legal action.

 

 

Page contributed by Thomas Byrne

Page Revised by Ivy F. Benoit (Sunday October 14, 2012)

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