Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day - The Battle of Beaumont Hamel




Today is Canada Day; St. Joseph is the patron saint of Canada. It's worth taking a moment to learn a little more about this compassionate and caring man. One can only imagine him trying to make sense of Mary's pregnancy, learning in a dream the truth about the child in Mary's womb and, shortly thereafter, taking her as his wife. He left everything he owned, all of his friends and family, fleeing to a strange country to be with Mary and the baby.

What else do we know about Joseph? Consider these brief excerpts from one of many online biographies:
We know Joseph loved Jesus. His one concern was for the safety of this child entrusted to him.
Not only did he leave his home to protect Jesus, but upon his return settled in the obscure town of Nazareth out of fear for his life. When Jesus stayed in the Temple we are told Joseph (along with Mary) searched with great anxiety for three days for him (Luke 2:48). We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son for over and over the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, "Is this not the son of Joseph?" (Luke 4:22)
We know Joseph respected God. He followed God's commands in handling the situation with Mary and going to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised and Mary purified after Jesus' birth. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man. Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus' public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry.



Prayer to St. Joseph

O blessed Joseph, faithful
guardian of my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ, protector
of thy chaste spouse, the
Virgin Mother of God, We
choose you this day to
be our special patron and
advocate. We firmly
resolve to honor you all
the days of our lives.
Therefore we humbly beg
of you to receive us as your
pupils, to instruct us in
every doubt, to comfort us
in every affliction,
to obtain for us
the knowledge and love of
the Heart of Jesus,
and finally to defend and
protect our lives but especially
the innocent and precious life
of every unborn child. Protect our
Country Canada, and guide and
protect our leaders  Keep the members
of our armed forces safe, Amen.


The Battle of Beaumont Hamel



 The infantry assault by the 29th British Division on 1 July 1916 at 8:45 a.m. the Newfoundland Regiment and 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment received orders to move forward.The Newfoundland Regiment was situated at St. John's Road, a support trench 250 yards (230 m) behind the British forward line and out of sight of the enemy. Movement forward through the communication trenches was not possible because they were congested with dead and wounded men and under shell fire. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Lovell Hadow, the battalion commander, decided to move immediately into attack formation and advance across the surface, which involved first navigating through the British barbed wire defences. As they breasted the skyline behind the British first line, they were effectively the only troops moving on the battlefield and clearly visible to the German defenders. Subjected to the full force of the 119th (Reserve) Infantry Regiment, most of the Newfoundland Regiment who had started forward were dead, dying or wounded within 15 to 20 minutes of leaving St. John's Road trench. Most reached no further than the Danger Tree, a skeleton of a tree that lay in No Man's Land that was being utilized as a landmark.  So far as can be ascertained, 22 officers and 758 other ranks were directly involved in the advance. Of these, all the officers and slightly under 658 other ranks became casualties.[ Of the 780 men who went forward only about 110 survived unscathed, of whom only 68 were available for roll call the following day. For all intents and purposes the Newfoundland Regiment had been wiped out, the unit as a whole having suffered a casualty rate of approximately 90%. The only unit to suffer greater casualties during the attack was the 10th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment, attacking west of Fricourt village.

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