With a population of just over 32,000 residents, St. John’s was not only the largest town, it was the capital in more than name: in economy, in business, and the seat of government. The other 210,000 people who called Newfoundland home were living in 1,400 settlements primarily dotted along the coastline, and most depended on the fisheries for their livelihood in one form or another. A new timber industry had drawn people to the interior to work for cash wages and populations were growing in Grand Falls, Windsor (known as Grand Falls Station until 1938), and Bishop’s Falls. When war was declared, the country was still reeling from the devastation of the terrible loss of life when the S.S. Southern Cross disappeared without a trace with all hands (173) on its return from the spring seal fishery and when the S.S. Newfoundland, when 132 of her sealers were forced to spend two days on the ice in blizzard conditions. Seventy-eight sealers, many young men on their first trip to the ice, froze to death or drowned. The profound sadness and impacts – both social and economic – of the double disasters were felt in dozens of communities. Little did the mothers and fathers of Newfoundland know that these two marine disasters would become comparable to the loss of life two years from then at Beaumont Hamel.