Newfoundland and Labrador: a Contribution Remembered (part 20A)

The Sixth Caribou

^^^ The Caribou, by (Sculptor) Basil Gotto;

" The memorial is that of a large bronze caribou

standing on a rocky outcrop,

glowering defiantly towards the enemy,

bellowing forever

for his sons to

return back."


After the First World War, Father Thomas Nangle, the former Padre of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, was appointed as The Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries, and Newfoundland's representative on the (British) Battle Exploits Committee.

In these roles, and because he was intimately familiar with the location of all Newfoundland's battlefields, he immediately began to agitate for the Newfoundland Government to raise National Memorials to the Fallen - like the other nations were doing.

He soon succeeded in acquiring permission for Newfoundland to erect six National Memorials.

They would be located at Caribou Hill in Gallipoli, Turkey; Beaumont Hamel, Masnieres,

Monchy le Preux and Geudecourt in France; and Keiberg Ridge (Courtrai) in Belgium.

In the meantime, he had already been negotiating with local farmers around Beaumont Hamel to purchase land for the creation of Newfoundland Park and for the erection of the first caribou.

Padre Nangle invited proposals for the monument and eventually chose one that was suggested by the British sculptor Basil Gotto. It featured a large bronze caribou standing on a rocky outcrop, glowering defiantly towards the enemy, and bellowing forever for his sons to return back.

The caribou, a native animal to Newfoundland and Labrador, was an obvious choice. It was already recognized as a National Symbol and was proudly worn on the Regiment’s hat badge.

Whereas five caribou were successfully erected in France and Belgium, the caribou in Gallipoli would not be erected for 104 years, until 2021.

At the time when Padre Nangle was initially negotiating with Turkey, the Country was under collapsing Ottoman rule and was occupied by Britain and France. Accordingly, Nangle decided that the “time wasn’t right” and the proposal was placed on hold.

The Caribou at Beaumont Hamel Memorial Park

In the meantime, in June 1925, the Caribou at Beaumont Hamel was unveiled by British Field Marshall Earl Haig, and it became the centrepiece of The Newfoundland War Memorial Park.

This is one of only two National Historic Sites of Canada located outside Canada; the other is the Canadian National Vimy Ridge Memorial.

Although the site was founded to honour the memory of the Newfoundland Regiment, it also

contains a number of other memorials as well. It contains four cemeteries maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; i.e. that of Y Ravine CemeteryHawthorn Ridge Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2, and the unusual mass burial site of Hunter's Cemetery.

At the base of the Beaumont-Hamel Caribou, three large bronze tablets carry the names of 820 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve, and the Mercantile Marines who gave their lives in the First World War and, have no known graves

5,000 native trees from Newfoundland were transplanted around the boundaries of the Park,

such as spruce, dogberry, and juniper.

By 2010, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council began to agitate for completion of the Trail of the Caribou. After much negotiating, which involved the governments of Canada, Turkey, and Newfoundland, the Turkish Government finally gave permission in 2018 for the erection of the Newfoundland caribou.

On April 13th, 2021, the sixth and final caribou was officially installed just outside Hill 10 Cemetery in Gallipoli.

(Note: There is also another Caribou - the seventh. We’ll talk about that in the next blog.)


Note that this tour is a guaranteed departure!

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. Click June 2022 >


Our Guest Author Gerry Peddle