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.