The second and final element of the Danger Tree sculpture was unveiled at Grenfell Campus.
The first piece of the sculpture, the Danger Tree, was installed in June 2016. Both pieces have been gifted to the university through the Forget-Me-Not Committee, a dedicated group of volunteers committed to preserving the memories of those lost at war through the installation of art pieces in the city of Corner Brook.
The Danger Tree, as it became known following the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, was a solitary tree that remained standing on the battlefield, despite being ravaged by shell and gunfire from both sides. The tree was located in the middle of no man's land near a gap in the barbed wire, approximately halfway between the British and German front lines in the French countryside. Many Newfoundlanders converged on the location attempting to advance; it was there that many of them fell.
"The Danger Tree installation reminds visitors of the heroic conduct of the Newfoundland Regiment who, on the first day of the bloody Somme Offensive, in a mere half hour, was shattered as its members moved towards a marker – the remnant of a tree in No Man's Land – around which scores died in a battle. Out of a force of nearly 800, only 68 answered the roll call when the calamity mercifully concluded," said Jeff Keshen, vice-president Grenfell Campus.
The bronze sculpture is now complete with the addition of a soldier sculpture of Pte. Hugh Walter McWhirter, the first solider from the first Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who was killed in combat in the First World War.
"There is no more fitting place than Memorial University, a living Memorial to all those who were lost in the first World War and later rededicated to those lost in the second World War" said Gudie Hutchings, member of Parliament, Long Range Mountains. And it's very fitting that this would take place during Corner Brook Come Home Year celebration, she said. "We are bringing Hugh home."
The project was spearheaded by Dave Higdon, chairperson of the Forget Me Not committee, who, along with his committee members, have worked tirelessly to secure funds for the establishment of war memorials in key locations in the region, including Grenfell Campus and Remembrance Square in Corner Brook.
Also unveiled, to complete this site and to provide future generations with a deeper appreciation of the tremendous scope of contributions that came forth from this province, was a bench commemorating the 500 volunteers who formed the Newfoundland Forestry Corps. The Corps cleared more than 1,200 acres of timberland, whose supply was critical to the Allied war effort.
To add to the significance of the event, performances were given by award-winning folk and traditional musical trio The Ennis Sisters and local bagpiper Elaine Huxter.
Young, VP of Registered Professional Foresters of NL; Scott Reid, MHA St. George's-Humber; Dave
Higdon, Forget Me Not committee; Gudie Hutchings, MP Long Range Mountains;Eddie
Joyce, MHA Humber-Bay of Islands; sculptor Morgan MacDonald; and Jeff
Keshen, Grenfell Campus VP