Rather than a retelling of the event itself, “Ours” tracks the social, political and emotional aftermath of the battle of Beaumont Hamel through the story of Thomas Nangle.
Nangle was posted as chaplain to the Newfoundland Regiment shortly after Beaumont Hamel and served out the rest of the war with “ours.” Following the war he was made Newfoundland’s representative on the Imperial War Graves Commission where he lead efforts to exhume, identify, and properly bury the remains of much of the lost regiment across Europe.
He almost single handily raised the money and fostered the political will to establish the existing five war memorial sites across Europe, including our much prized site of Beaumont Hamel, as well as the Newfoundland National War Memorial on Duckworth and Water Streets here in St. John’s.
His hard work didn’t come without personal cost though, and following his establishment of the parks, Nangle, disillusioned, left the priesthood and moved to Rhodesia, South Africa, where he married, had children and eventually died in 1972. Though his legacy stands in stone and marble on two continents, his name, one of such unparalleled importance in the history of Newfoundland both during and after the Great War, has all but been lost to popular knowledge.
Ours charts the history of Nangle and of Newfoundland through his attempts to sign up for the regiment at the start of the war, his eventual posting, the time he spent on the front, his wounding at the hands of a sniper, the hard work of finding the lost regiment in the mud fields of France after the war, his establishment of the memorial parks and his eventual heartbreaking departure from Newfoundland.
His story of dedication, sacrifice, hardship, and renewal is the perfect human embodiment of Newfoundland’s journey through the war, through its horrific aftermath, and through our re-emergence as a province of Canada.