Mr. Speaker, a funeral was held yesterday for a distinguished Newfoundlander who passed away on Friday. Mr. Walter Albert Tobin, 97 years old, was the last survivor of the first world war Battle of Beaumont Hamel.
Mr. Tobin was only 17 years old when he enlisted in the army. He had no way of knowing then that on July 1, 1916, his Royal Newfoundland Regiment would be virtually wiped out at Beaumont Hamel. Over 300 people died or went missing; 386 were wounded. The next morning only 68 men were able to answer the roll call. Mr. Tobin was one of them. Although wounded, he received medical attention and then returned to the battlefield.
I recently spoke with Mr. Tobin at a veterans ceremony in St. John's and I was indeed honoured to meet a man of such courage and stature.
There are fewer than 2,300 first world war veterans living today. As we mourn the passing of Mr. Tobin we would do well to listen and learn from their experience and their wisdom. We should seize the opportunity to tell these men and women how grateful we are and how proud we are of their service to our country.