A special ceremony was held July 1 to officially rededicate the war memorial in Bay Robertsand commemorate the ill-fated offensive at Beaumont Hamel in 1916 that nearly resulted in the annihilation of the First Newfoundland Regiment.
Organizers say some 700 people were in attendance, making it one of the best-attended Memorial Day services in recent memory.
"We were extremely pleased with the turnout," said Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood, who played a leading role in efforts to have the Water Street cenotaph restored. Wood is also an active member of Branch No. 32 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Bay Roberts.
The war memorial was erected in 1928, and had not undergone any major upgrades since that time.
It had fallen into disrepair, prompting a groundswell of community and government support to restore and enhance the site, which hosts Memorial Day (July 1) and Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) ceremonies.
The centrepiece of the memorial, the marble statue of a soldier of the Newfoundland Regiment, was slowly crumbling. There were cracks and black stains on the helmet, a section of the gun strap had fallen off, and the marble was generally faded and smeared.
Cracks had also opened up along the marble base, and the concrete platform on which it all sits was heaved and fissured.
A restoration project valued at some $60,000 was completed in recent months, with support from Veterans Affairs Canada, the Town of Bay Roberts and Branch No. 32.
One of the most noteworthy additions to the memorial is a commemorative plaque containing the names and other data - where and when they died, and where they are commemorated - of nearly 40 Bay Roberts citizens who died in the two world wars.
The statue was also repaired and cleaned up, and the site was made wheelchair accessible.
Reaction to the upgrades have been very positive, said Wood, especially among those with family members named on the commemorative plaque.
In the past, the memorial only listed the first initial and last name of the deceased.
"For the benefit of the families and present and future generations, we wanted to immortalize and further honour those who have their name inscribed on the monument," added Eric Jerrett, who co-chaired the restoration committee.
"Therefore, the bronze plaque set in native stone lists the full name, rank, serial number, division of service, place and date of death, and where the body is commemorated. With this information, family members and researchers can usually obtain the full military records of the individual."