Newfoundland At Armageddon

The Penney brothers

My Grandfather was late joining the Newfoundland Regiment. His mother could not bear to see him leave after recently losing her husband to sickness, a son to drowning years earlier, and having another son currently enlisted and reported wounded. My grandfather struggled daily with being forced to remain at home and help the family. To his mother's disappointment and upset, he finally could no longer bear looking up at his brother's face (his picture hung high on the wall) and not join him in battle.

My Great Uncle Steve joined the Newfoundland Regiment and was shipped overseas at 17 years of age. He fought at the Gallipoli campaign where he was shot in the mid-section. Following a brief stint at the hospital, he returned to battle. His final battle was the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont-Hamel where he suffered multiple wounds, including a bullet to the face. Fortunately, he did recuperate and returned to his Newfoundland home where he married, but never had any children.

In the 1970s, we would often travel to English Harbour, Trinity Bay to visit Great Uncle Steve. I was just a boy at the time, but I can still picture a circular scar on each of his cheeks, clear evidence that a German's bullet had passed through his face sixty years earlier.

Neither of these men ever spoke to me personally about the conflicts in which they participated. But I suspect it was finding these direct family links to history that planted in me a seed that would flourish into a lifelong fascination and reverence for those who served. In 2000, I was moved to write a song about the experiences of a WWII veteran I met in my hometown of Lewisporte. I have continued to write songs ever since. It is an honour to share their stories.

Terry Penney