Lieutenant Owen William Steele volunteered for the famed Newfoundland Regiment in late summer 1914. His war diary, begun as he embarked for England, relates the experiences of his regiment: training on Salisbury Plain and in Scotland, baptism of fire at Gallipoli, recuperation in Egypt, and, finally, the battlefields of France. Along the way his sense of adventure turns to a growing weariness with war, a desire to return home, and an underlying hope that he will survive. His diary ends twenty-two months later on the eve of the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont Hamel, a few days before his death. Steele and his comrades expected war to be a glorious adventure, their personal intersection with events of historic importance. His diary entries convey the excitement that accompanied the passage of the 'First 500' recruits across the Atlantic to England and the boredom that followed as the regiment moved from training camps to garrison towns during the first year of the war.Steele's account of the regiment's role in the ill-fated Gallipoli expedition shows how the reality of war transforms individuals, shattering illusions about glory and heroic effort and replacing them with fears of death and wounding far from home. Steele's record of the shift to the western front and the events that led up to the virtual annihilation of his regiment on the fields of Beaumont Hamel on 1 July 1916 is filled with the pathos and irony of war. His diary captures the essence of how the individual deals with war's uncertainties, the terrible possibilities of self destruction on the battle-ground, and the need to control and overcome those fears."The Great War" is of special interest to Newfoundland as it was the last significant effort by what was then a small Dominion to assert its place within the larger British Empire. Newfoundland's participation in the war resulted not only in the loss of lives and limbs but to the strains and tensions that led to its demise as an independent country.
History, Military, World-War-I,