In keeping with our mandate, East Coast Coins does not, and never has shipped Royal Newfoundland Regiment Memoriabilia outside of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Any such items we buy are first and foremost offered locally to individuals / groups/ organizations who are interested in preserving such memorabilia and honoring the memory of the men and women of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. We are very interested in any such items that are offered outside of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador so that we might have the opportunity to bring these items home. If you see such items offered through online sales we would appreciate a heads up as we are very strong buyers of these items and will pay handsomely to repatriate them..
In the past we have rescued Newfoundland Regiment items from Ontario, Quebec, the USA Great Britain and France and have even purchased items locally that were found in abandoned houses that were scheduled to be discarded.
A History of the Regiment
The formation of the Newfoundland Patriotic Association (NPA) on August 12, 1913 provided the structure for organizing the war effort and for raising the necessary forces for service overseas. Initially, the Association proposed to raise 500 men for a military contingent and to increase the size of the Naval Reserve to 1000.
The response to the proclamation of August 22 calling for volunteers was overwhelming. Within days, 335 had signed up, two thirds coming from the city cadet brigades. By the end of the first week, it appeared as if the entire 500 might be made up from St. John’s. When enlistment tapered off by September 26, nearly 1000 volunteers had signed up.
Half passed the required medical exams and moved to tent lines established at nearby Pleasantville. These were the First Five Hundred, a rag tag little army of enthusiastic volunteers, officered by the sons of the city’s elite, and attired in a variety of military costumes, including blue puttees obtained from a local supplier—hence their popular designation “The Blue Puttees.” The terms of enlistment were “for the duration of the war, but not exceeding one year.” By war’s end, over four years later, a total of 6,241 Newfoundland men had served in the regiment, 4,668 as volunteers. (Another 5,747 enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve, the Forestry Corps, the Canadian Expeditionary Force and British Forces.)
Recruitment for the regiment was not a major problem for the first two years. However, the near annihilation of the regiment at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916, and costly major engagements in October at Gueudecourt and at Monchy-le-Preux the following April, increased pressure on the colony to find additional men. A draft of 500 arrived in late June and early July 1917 but the Battle of Cambrai that November and December reduced the regiment to 250 all ranks.
We are very interested in original period Royal Newfoundland Regiment Uniforms
While its actions at Ypres and Cambrai resulted in the regiment receiving the designation “Royal,” recruitment now became a serious problem. In August 1917, the new National Government created a Department of Militia. Over the course of the summer the number of men offering to serve had dropped dramatically. Inducements such as allowances to married men and others with dependents, and a highly publicized recruiting drive that fall, met with limited success.
Calls for conscription came from several quarters. The government eventually realized that some form of compulsory service was necessary, but delayed until April 1918 when it became obvious that the regiment was badly under strength and that drastic measures were necessary.
The Military Service Act was proclaimed on May 11, 1918, and, like similar legislation in Britain and Canada, allowed the government to conscript men for service. In the end, these conscripts were not sent to the Western Front. The regiment had been withdrawn from service briefly in May, but the last batch of volunteers allowed it to serve with distinction as part of the British 9th Division at the Fourth Battle of Ypres. As a consequence, the regiment was able to claim that it had served throughout the war as a truly volunteer force.
WHAT WE ARE BUYING
There is a strong market for Royal Newfoundland Regiment memorabilia. In many instances, families wish to sell their collections so that it goes to a museum or is kept in a good home to someone who appreciates the items and can ensure proper preservation. In recent years we have had people sell to us who have several children and don’t want the family fighting over the medal sets or don’t want the medal sets broke up in which they would be less valuable. In addition, a lot of families wish to have the medals on public display and would rather get paid in cash instead of donating them to a local legion or museum who in all probability already have many in storage never to be seen or displayed. Some others have found the medals and don’t even know where they came from. At East Coast Coins we will ensure that your wishes are followed, if you want them sold by private treaty we will do that to ensure your privacy, if you want them in a museum, we will broker a deal for you ensuring that you get paid in cash. In either case, give us a call, even if you don’t want to sell your items, we’d love to make you an offer so at least you know the value of what you have.