The Daniel brothers, London Rifle Brigade



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The Daniel brothers


London Rifle Brigade




lrb daniel bros
(Photograph courtesy of Tom Daniel)



This studio portrait would have taken in August 1914, shortly after enrolling. Left to right: Alfred Austen, Harold and Herbert William.


The Daniel brothers were the sons of Herbert and Clara Matilda Daniel, of 21, Vanbrugh Hill, Blackheath.


Alfred Austen Daniel:


H Company, London Rifle Brigade, 5th Battalion, City of London Regiment.


Alfred was a native of Rotherhithe, and was a server at St John's Church on the Isle of Dogs. In his memory a copy in oils of the painting 'The Great Sacrifice' was placed in the church by the parishioners. He was at Haberdashers’ in New Cross (which is now Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College), where he was a prefect and played cricket and football for his house. On leaving school he went to London University. Prior to enlisting in August 1914 he worked for the Star Assurance Association and training to be an Actuary.


Alfred enrolled in the London Rifle Brigade with his  two brothers on 6 August 1914. Aged 20, he went with the battalion to France in November, and while on fatigue duty was shot by a sniper and dangerously wounded on the evening of 24 January 1915. He died fourteen hours later. He is buried in London Rifle Brigade Cemetery near Ploegsteert in Belgium (his grave is III. A. 3.), and remembered on the war memorial at Haberdashers’ Aske’s school, New Cross. He was the first Askean to die in the Great War.


Harold Daniel:


Harold enrolled in the LRB with his brothers on 6 August 1914 and placed in H Company, despite being underage. He served with the battalion until he was sent back to England in 1915 as it was discovered that he was too young. He thought that he had been ratted on by his brother Bert (also in H Company) to keep him safe. Subsequently it has been discovered it was a policy decision to send all identified underage troops back until they were old enough to enlist. He was given a white feather in the Strand. He eventually joined 13 (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (with his brother Bert), and was wounded on the Somme.


Herbert William Daniel:


Herbert enrolled in the LRB with his brothers on 6 August 1914 and, like Harold, placed in H Company. He spent the first winter in the trenches as a corporal, and witnessed the Christmas Truce. He was in the line for the first German gas attacks of 1915. He was seriously wounded during this period and his younger brother Alfred killed. Bert and his brother Harold were commissioned in 13 (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. In October 1917 he was wounded again, awarded the Military Cross, and was later again wounded. In 1918 he was awarded a bar to his MC. He was then wounded a third time, and mentioned in Dispatches. By the time of the Armistice Bert was again with the 13th as a company commander, with the rank of Captain.


After demobilization Bert returned to work in the City, but in 1920 rejoined the Royal Fusiliers as a regular officer, joining the 1st Battalion, then in Killarney, and later going to India with the battalion advance party. Apart from one tour at the regimental depot at Hounslow in the late 1920s Bert stayed with the 1st Battalion in India until posted to the 2nd Battalion at Pembroke dock in 1935. When that battalion went to France in1939 he was second in command, until becoming seriously ill early in 1940 and being invalided home. A partial recovery led to his appointment as second in command of the 8th Battalion.


Unfortunately Bert again became ill and was employed in administrative posts for the remainder of the war. In 1945 and 1946 he ran a rehabilitation centre for officers near Edinburgh, and many young officers expressed their gratitude then for his understanding, advice and practical assistance. He retired from active service in 1947, but became heavily involved with the Home Guard between 1949 and 1952, when he commanded a home guard battalion of the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment. He became seriously ill again as a result of his wartime injuries, but made an almost complete recovery to live in full retirement thereafter.


At the time of his death he was thought to be the last surviving Royal Fusiliers officer to hold the Mons Star, therefore being entitled to be called an 'Old Contemptible'. He married Moira and had three children:  Patricia, Constance (Blue) and John, who in his turn became a Fusilier.






(Our thanks to Tom Daniel, Herbert's grandson, for this information.)




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