Newfoundland and Labrador: a Contribution Remembered (part 16)

Forget Me Not

Legend has it that when God was naming flowers, a little plant called out to Him, saying:

"Forget-Me-Not, O Lord.”

…..God replied: “That shall be thy name”


Before 1949, and confederation with Canada, Newfoundland was an independent British Dominion, and proud of it. As “Britain’s Oldest Colony,” the people of Newfoundland and Labrador proudly exhibited their distinctiveness, as they continue to do today.

When World War 1 broke out in 1914, Newfoundland and Labrador were immediate in responding. In their haste to participate in a war which they believed would be over by Christmas, the Newfoundlanders eagerly shipped out before they could be properly outfitted.

Most distinctively, lacking in khaki materials, the first wave of 500 Newfoundlanders arrived in England wearing blue puttees around their boots and lower legs, earning themselves

the nickname of the ‘Blue Puttees.’

Following action in Gallipoli (modern-day Turkey), the Newfoundland Regiment found themselves in France, participating in the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1st, 1916.

Here, near a town called Beaumont Hamel, the Regiment was virtually annihilated. Here, within thirty minutes, Newfoundland and Labrador lost the flower of an entire generation.

Thereafter, July 1st was chosen as the Newfoundland Day of Remembrance.

Thus, long before the Poppy became the popular emblem of remembrance of our war dead, Newfoundlanders wore a sprig of the little blue Forget-Me-Not every July 1st in remembrance of their soldiers and sailors who fell in World War I. 

Today, it remembers the Newfoundland and Labrador war dead from all wars.

The small but mighty Forget-Me-Not, (which can survive in harsh climates and grow in the toughest terrain), symbolizes the strength and courage of those young Newfoundland and Labrador men on the battlefield.

The blue colour of the flower symbolizes the (true blue) loyalty of those who fought and died. Some have said it is also a reminder of the blue of their puttees.

While all Canadians now wear the poppy to mark Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day, on November 11th, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador also wear the Forget-Me-Not on July 1st.

While they solemnly commemorate the broader sacrifices by wearing the red poppy with the rest of Canada, they also wear the little blue Forget-Me-Not to never forget their unique disrupted destiny.

Early to bloom each Spring, it fades and dies very quickly. Just like these young warriors from Newfoundland and Labrador.


In June 2022, we look forward to having Gerry back on the battlefields with us, escorting us on a special pilgrimage to Gallipoli Turkey, to see for the first time, the last of the six Caribou along the Newfoundland Caribou Trail in Europe. Check out the tour June 2022 >


Our Guest Author Gerry Peddle