A blog about James Cooper of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment and one of the first five-hundred, and Newfoundland's links with Ayr
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As a symbol I stand for the friendly hand
Whose grip is firm and true,
St. John's and Ayr, long may they share
The bond of "The Caribou"!
Read the full Caribou poem here... The Caribou - by John O'Brine Frisse
Newfoundland gifted a Caribou head to the town of Ayr as a gesture of gratitude as to how the town’s people had welcomed and treated the Newfoundlanders. The caribou head is currently held at Rozelle house, Ayr.
© Number98.net 2014-2018
The following paragraphs are extracts from the book “The Fighting Newfoundlander”
by G.W.L Nicholson - http://www.amazon.ca/Fighting-Newfoundlander-Gerald-W-L-Nicholson/dp/0773531335
The “Auld toon of Ayr” - and more particularly the racecoarse - would long hold a special place in the memories of many hundreds of Newfoundlanders, for here the overseas depot of the Newfoundland regiemnt made its home for upwards of two and a half years”.
From the start the Newfoundlanders got on well with the local inhabitants. The troops soon came to regard Ayr and nearby Prestwick as homes away from home; and so warmly did the townsfolk reciprocate this friendly feeling both to the boys indivdually and the unit as a whole that it wassaid that the Regiement shared with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the hearts of the people.
During the summer of 1916 a proposal to transfer the 2nd Battalion from Ayr to Barry, in Forfarshire, beside the Firth of Tay, had been strenuously opposed by Newfoundland. The Prime Minister, who was in London at the time, had hastened to Edinburgh to represent Major-General Ewart, G.O.C. Scottish command, that such a move would cause much did-satisfaction among the members of the Regiment in Ayr,and would seriously injure recruiting in Newfoundland. In the face of these objections the proposed move was cancelled. The question was reopened in 1917. On the last day of June Lieutenant-Colonel Whitaker cabled Governer Davidson that the 2nd Battalion was under order to move to Barry. Back came a reply from Premier Morris: “Do you want me to act re removal of Battalion? To whom should I cable?”
The battle was on. On July 3 the Governor addressed a protest to the secretary of state for the colonies expressing the great dissapointment of his ministers for the proposed transfer. He declared that officers and men at Ayr were “strongly and unanimously opposed”.He pointed out that the move would lead to unnecessary personal expense and considerable cost to the Government. Ayr was particularly suited to the work which the Battalion was doing, the men were happy and satisfied there - Sir Walter did not mention how many had married Ayr girls - and that not only would training be certain to suffer if the move took place, but (and this next point was not clearly explained) recruiting in the colony would be adversely affected.The Battalion moved to Barry on July 3.
Newfoundland memorial at Ayr cemetary which is looked after by the Scottish war graves comission.
An Ayrshire Post article about the Newfoundlanders, James Cooper and the Caribou head gifted to Ayr.