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Lindsay Gover

To many Newfoundlanders like Lindsay Gover, the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel were like family. That’s one of the reasons she eagerly applied to be a student guide at the Beaumont-Hamel and Vimy Memorial sites in France. She returned home with a new appreciation for her relatives and a new line of study.

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Joseph MacIsaac

Lindsay Gover knew growing up three of her great-great-great uncles fought in the First World War as part of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. She was in her first year of university when she first heard about Veterans Affairs Canada’s Student Guide Program in France. The idea of connecting with her family’s history, taking in the French culture and sharing the sites’ history with visitors sounded appealing. Enthusiastically, she applied.

She will forever remember the heart-wrenching moments of her very first day as a guide. “The first time that I arrived on site at Beaumont-Hamel, I was completely overwhelmed by emotion. I think I cried. Being there in person, seeing it for myself, it was more impactful than any history lesson that I could’ve gotten at school. It’s like you almost become overcome with a sense of peace and calm,” she says.

For Newfoundlanders, it’s still in our collective memories. It’s so important to keep those sites so that people can go back, and educate themselves about the significance of the events that took place there.

She’s not alone. Many visitors to the monument shared very personal and touching stories with her. “For Newfoundlanders, it’s still in our collective memories. It’s so important to keep those sites so that people can go back, and educate themselves about the significance of the events that took place there.” Gover says often, student groups would depart completely changed. “It became so much more real to them.”

The battle of the Somme was devastating. I know that when those men advanced forward, within the first 20 minutes, they suffered a casualty rate of 85%.

She is confident future generations will keep remembering what was lost on the battlefields in and around Beaumont-Hamel. She says it lives deep within the collective memories of her fellow Newfoundlanders. “The battle of the Somme was devastating. I know that when those men advanced forward, within the first 20 minutes, they suffered a casualty rate of 85%. Of the approximately 800 men that advanced forward, there was only 68 available for roll call the next day. So it had such a huge impact on the Regiment itself and on the Dominion of Newfoundland.”

One of her great-great-great uncles, Gilbert Walters, is commemorated on the plaque below the Caribou monument at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial. The monument honours all Newfoundlanders who served during the First World War and the plaque, those lost with unknown graves.

Gover was so delighted with her first experience as a guide that she eagerly returned for a second term. Now in her third year of university, she decided to make the switch from a science program to political science and French. That change was in good part inspired by her experience as a guide. “I’m not saying that being in France completely changed my mind, but it definitely had an impact. The overall experience was so rewarding. I learned so much,” she says.

In honour of the 105th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel, we’re sharing the stories of Canadians who have a personal connection. Lindsay Gover is one of them. Discover more stories.

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