On this day one hundred years ago at about 4:00 pm my Great Grandfather Bernard Daly, serving with the 2nd Shropshire Light Infantry in the St. Eloi sector of Ypres, was killed by a German sniper.
A corporal, he was a career soldier, initially enlisting with the King’s Own before transferring to the Shropshires. He had completed 20 years service. He was a veteran of the Boer War, fought and was wounded at Spion Kop.
In the letter received by my Great Grandmother, his commanding officer explains.
‘ He was shot through the head and could have felt no pain. I am sincerely sorry about it as he was an extremely good and useful non-commissioned officer who always did his work well and cheerfully. He fell fighting like the brave man he was and I feel sure that he could not have wished for a better death than to die fighting for King and country He was highly thought of by all the officers.’
What he doesn’t say is that the St. Eloi sector had some of the worst trench conditions of the whole Western Front: water thigh deep in places, while frost bite and trench foot depleted the battallion’s strength.
The post which brought the letter, also by cruel irony included a letter to his youngest son on the occasion of his fourth birthday.
Within three months his kid brother would be killed less than a mile away.
Dear Andy, I am currently putting together an exhibit regarding the students and staff members from Ushaw College who have participated in the Great War. The exhibit will open on the 16th of July up to October. This is in conjunction with the curators Claire Marsland and Lucy Jenkins. I discovered your blog whilst researching your great-grandfather and I was wondering if you would be interested in having a chat about him. I would also like to know if it would be possible to have the rights to display the quotes from the letter written by his commanding officer, or even display the letter itself for the duration of the exhibit. This is only if you are interested, of course. My email is email@example.com. Best wishes, Stephanie Maurel
Hi. My Dad did the research which lead to the discovery of the obituary in the Lancaster Guardian ? We have a poor photocopy of the original. Funnily enough my Dad wrote to Ushaw in 1992 asking for information about him (I suppose you know all this) He and his younger brother John arrived at Ushaw Sept 17 1892. His age was given as 13, birthday 15 May. He was born in Barbados. (I have a photo which I am fairly sure is him as a baby. ) He left Ushaw July 8 1893. Other than that we know very little about him. Like his Dad he was a career soldier, but his service record is unavailable. His bother John’s service record is accessible, and the bits that I can understand make for a very interesting read.