The Newfoundland Memorial at Gueudecourt.
Why this journey?
I focussed on his story in France and visited the small village of Englebelmer, where he was billeted before the battle of the Somme and practised for the upcoming battle and trench raids. I followed his footsteps in the Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont-Hamel and finally visited the village of Gueudecourt and the fields around it, the place where George went missing during the raid on Hilt trench.
George Phillips' arrival in Englebelmer
Main road of Englebelmer, where the church is situated.
The town hall of Englebelmer, further on the Main Road.
Main road to the village Vitermont, which is situated right beside Englebelmert.
View towards the Newfoundland Memorial Park at Beaumont-Hamel, taken from the outskirts of Englebelmer.
The battle of Beaumont-Hamel
These are the grounds where George did the trench raids (he was posthumously awarded for his actions) and where he got wounded on 1st of July 1916.
Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont-Hamel, on a rainy day.
The great Caribou watches over the fallen Newfoundlanders.
One of the 3 bronze tablets beneath the Caribou. These bronze tablets carry the names of 820 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Royal Navy Reserve and the Mercantile Marines who gave their lives in the first World War and have no known grave. Private George Phillips was one of them.
The remains of the Danger Tree, still standing there after al these years. It marks the furthest point of advance of the Newfoundlanders on the July the 1st 1916. View from the Danger Tree, across no man’s land. The Newfoundlanders had to cross this terrain during their attack on the German frontline.
Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont-Hamel. View towards Y-Ravine. This terrain is covered with shell holes.
This is the location of Y-ravine: the home of the German 119 Reserve Infantry Regiment, who were defending Beaumont-Hamel. The infantry, with soldiers having a mining background, made deep dugouts and fortifications into the side of the deep Y-shaped ravine. They sheltered and protected the German soldiers during the bombardments before the attack.
Terrain over which George Phillips attacked the German frontline.
The danger tree is situated on the right side (outside of this picture).
View towards the location of the Hawthorn mine, which went of on the 1st of July 1916. The explosion of this mine is something that George Phillips must have seen and heard, as he waited in the trenches. The famous Sunken Lane is on the left side of the picture.
The fighting at Gueudecourt
Gueudecourt, Rue de Miraumont. Leading to the center of this small village.
The old cemetery of Gueudecourt. The starting positions of the Newfoundland Regiment in the far distance on the right.
Gueudecourt. View from the starting positions of the Newfoundlanders towards Hilt Trench.
Gueudecourt. In the far distance you can see the sun standing above the Caribou Newfoundland Memorial.
After the assault
During the 55 hours between entering the trenches on October 10 1916 and the end of the battle, the Newfoundland Regiment suffered 239 casualties. 120 of these men were killed.
George Phillips was one of them. He would never return to Whitbourne, Newfoundland. His remains are still resting in the French soil near Gueudecourt. He was posthumously awarded with the Military Medal and the Russian Medal of St. George, Third Class, for the bravery he showed at Beaumont-Hamel.
This visit and my whole journey was kind of an emotional and personal thing. A sort of pilgrimage I think. Strange to feel connected with someone you never knew or met.
As I walked down the old trench line, the lyrics of the song The green fields of France kept repeating in my head.
The trenches have vanished long under the plow,
No gas, no barbed wire, no guns firing now
Please reply to this post and join us in remembering private George Phillips and all the other soldiers who where killed during the battlefield of the Somme or elsewhere on the front.
Thank you for sharing our blogpost.
Tom and Sarah
Many thanks to a relative of Newfoundland soldier George Phillips. She was kind enough to share all the research she had done!
Want to learn more?
Read more about Private George Phillips' story:
Check out our blogpost on Beaumont-Hamel:
The tragedy of the Newfoundland Regiment (Photo Blog)
Watch these short movies on The Newfoundland Regiment and its battles
ABOUT OUR BLOG
We take you along our photographic journey through the World War battlefields in Belgium and France. With our black and white photographs and self written poetry, we share our impression of these historic, heroic and tragic events.
We honor the men who fought and died during both World Wars by telling their story and by sharing our pictures of battlefields, memorials and cemeteries as they are today.
Lest We Forget
George Theodore Snelling
William Edward Hipkiss
Sydney Edmund Ellis
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