• Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recruitment of the First 500 – the Blue Puttees

Commemorating the recruitment of the first 500 soldiers in August 1914

Within four days of war being declared, the Newfoundland Government committed to raise a regiment of 500 soldiers. On August 22, 1914, a call for volunteers was issued and within days 335 had signed up; two thirds from St. John’s cadet brigades. By September 26, nearly 1000 volunteers had been recruited and went to the Church Lads Brigade building on Military Road in St. John’s to enlist. Roughly half passed the required medical exams and moved to tent lines established at nearby Pleasantville.

On August 17, 2014, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, and the Church Lads Brigade commemorated the anniversary of the First 500 recruitment drive. The day featured the following well-attended events:

    • A church service at St. Thomas’s Anglican Church
    • A marching procession from St. Thomas’s Church to the Church Lads Brigade Armoury
    • A triple plaque unveiling at the Armoury to commemorate the role of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the Church Lads Brigade in the recruitment effort
    • An historical reenactment of the 1914 recruitment by the group ‘For King and Empire