This photograph of a handsome young man was taken in Islington, Newfoundland. The year is unknown but after World War I, Newfoundland had a minimal military presence, so the photo is possibly from the WWI era.
At that time, Newfoundland was still an independent country although under the British dominion, and owing allegiance to Britain. Since the military in Newfoundland had been virtually nonexistant since 1870, a recruiting effort took place, and eventually enough men were raised to create the Newfoundland Regiment. After basic training and acclimating to military life, the Regiment was eventually sent to Suvla Bay and the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign. This Regiment escaped with relatively few casualties (40 deceased, 150 ill), and they went on to fight again at the Battle of the Somme. They were not as lucky during this battle, and on July 1, 1916 they lost approximately 90% of their number (670 of 780) were lost. The following day, only 68 men were able to make it to roll call. It was a devastating blow to the Regiment, but recruiting efforts back in Newfoundland continued and their ranks swelled again. They continued to see action, sometimes terribly, with April 23, 1917 being the last day for 435 of their numbers at the Battle of Arras. Throughout the war they deported themselves with incredible valor, earning the distinction of “Royal” being added to their name by King George V, an honor that had not been bestowed during battle for the previous 101 years.
After WWI, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment saw very little action over seas, and sent no infantry to fight during WW2. They did send two artillery units and have since maintained a presence, however limited, in world activities. After becoming a Canadian province in 1949, the Regiment has been the primary military presence in the province, and they have acted as U.N. Peace Keepers around the world. Amazingly, in August 2010, the regiment experienced their first combat loss in almost 100 years, when Corporal Brian Pinkson died of wounds sustained in Afghanistan. July 1st continues as Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador in honor of those many men lost in 1916.
The back of the photo has a handwritten note, which maybe someone else can decipher more accurately. The writing in green ink is angled across the top left corner. I can’t make the name turn into something I am familiar with (not Diane, Dane, Dario, etc.). The studio was called Watson’s. It is possible this man was not part of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, but in fact visiting Newfoundland as part of the recruiting efforts by Britain, or even later on in the 20th century. We shall never know though, since whoever he was, he didn’t sign his last name.
UPDATE; Thanks to Pierre Lagace’ at Lest We Forget, the dating of this photograph has been changed to World War II era. Pierre believes this might have been a British sailor not stationed on a ship – as his hat band would say the name. Possibly the man was stationed in Newfoundland and had his photo made while there. It makes the salutation “to your London friends” have a little more context, certainly.