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'The Unforgotten': Terry Penney honours Newfoundland veterans

Terry Penney of Lewisporte was a member of the crew of actors, made up of descendants of war veterans, to be part of the documentary “Newfoundland at Armageddon”. The production aired last year to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel. Penney said just from his experience and knowing the history of what the soldiers went through, “It must have been hell.” Penney is releasing a CD “The Unforgotten” and companion book “The Unforgotten: Stories of Newfoundland Veterans” as part of his continuing effort to honour soldiers and their families. Submitted photo
Terry Penney of Lewisporte was a member of the crew of actors, made up of descendants of war veterans, to be part of the documentary “Newfoundland at Armageddon”. The production aired last year to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel. Penney said just from his experience and knowing the history of what the soldiers went through, “It must have been hell.” Penney is releasing a CD “The Unforgotten” and companion book “The Unforgotten: Stories of Newfoundland Veterans” as part of his continuing effort to honour soldiers and their families. Submitted photo

CD/book release taking place in Lewisporte on Friday

LEWISPORTE, NL — It’s been three years since singer/songwriter/storyteller Terry Penney took to the stage to perform.

Penney is back and has added author to his list of credits. He has completed work on a “labour of love.” The 10-track CD “The Unforgotten” includes previously released but newly recorded music, along with new music that reflect his respect and honour for those who have served, and those who support them. 

The CD project is accompanied by a companion book “The Unforgotten: Stories of Newfoundland Veterans”. Penney, who is known for sharing the back stories to his songs during live performances, provides a taste of this in the book. It’s also a place where Penney shares stories he was fortunate to hear from veterans such as the late Leslie Ginn, who was the inspiration for the song “Normandy in Newfoundland”. 

“It’s very satisfying to be able to preserve some of this history of the community, province and national history,” Penney said.

In the book Penney shares stories Ginn told him, including “The Heirloom Ring”, a story Penney will share with the audience at the CD/book release event to be held at Citadel House in Lewisporte on Friday, Nov. 3 beginning at 7 p.m.

The mix of short stories, poetry, thoughts and song lyrics are evident of Penney’s knack for storytelling that over the years has evoked emotions from audiences of laughter to tears in a single performance.

Penney said the book provides snippets of the lives of the soldiers, but also of the loved ones who were left to worry about their sons, fathers, husbands, brothers, uncles and take on the burden of being without a vital member of the family unit.

The book also includes never-before published photos provided to Penney by those he has had the honour of getting to know over the years.

For Penney, this project is a way to preserve some of the history of those who went to war, and provide first-hand accounts of what they endured and how they persevered.

Growing up, Penney always felt a connection to those who serve or had served, but it wasn’t until later in life that he was aware there were members of his own family who had made important contributions to the war effort, something that solidified his commitment to share their stories.

Look to Penney’s Facebook page for details on upcoming performances. “The Unforgotten” is available by contacting Penney through Facebook or by email at UnforgottenNFLD@gmail.com. It will also be available in the Lewisporte area following the Nov. 3 CD/book release.

 

The Blue Puttees

Excerpt from “The Unforgotten: Stories of Newfoundland Veterans” by Terry Penney as a background story leading into the lyrics for “Blue Puttee Blues”:

When War broke out in 1914, no country was more ill-prepared than Newfoundland. She’d been an island at peace for years and with no warlike ambitions, had next to no military resources or supplies. When Britain requested a fighting force from her oldest colony, Newfoundland responded.

In short order, just over 500 men enlisted. They were the first contingent from the island to train and cross the water for the fighting in Europe. Makeshift, ill-fitting uniforms were quickly thrown together, but it was discovered that there was a shortage of Khaki material with which to fashion the soldiers’ protective leg wrappings known as puttees.

With time of the essence, the navy blue material used by the Church Lads Cadet Brigade in St. John’s was resourced for the job. The odd coloured wrappings would become a badge of honor. The first 500 alone would wear them and become known to history as the “Blue Puttees”.

Little did they know as they left the dock in St. John’s on that day in 1914, nearly 200 of them would not be making the trip home.

Blue Puttee Blues is a song written through the eyes of a war weary son of Newfoundland, returning to the Island and family he loves and trying to come to terms with all he’s witnessed.

kwells@pilotnl.ca

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