Simeon Thomas Daly ( "Tim")

Simeon Thomas Daly was born 18th Feb 1890 in Kensington, the second son of John Daly and Cecilia Targett. He was usually known as Thomas, and the family called him Tim.

For his family history, see here Return to Daly brothers home page.

From his service number 8283 we know he joined the West Yorkshire regiment between 3rd and 7th January 1907, probably signing on for 7 years so expecting to leave the army in 1914, but it was not to be. In the April 1911 census he was already a corporal in the 3rd battalion of the West Yorkshire regiment at the Fulford barracks in York. It is not obvious why a young lad from North London would join the West Yorkshire regiment.

He married Sarah Louise Wise, from York, on 24th July 1911.

On 29th March 1912, during a national coal miners strike, the newspaper "The Northern Whig" reported that 500 men of the 1st West Yorkshire regiment were sent from Litchfield to Littleton Colliery, Cannock, a distance of around 13 miles, arriving at 2am, so it sounds like an urgent request. Actually they may have come from the Whittington barracks near Litchfield.

On Sept 28th 1912 the Staffordshire Advertiser reported that the 1st battalion of the West Yorkshires were based at Whittington Barracks, and had their annual athletics event on the Heath. Sergeant Daly came second in the 220 yards sergeants handicap race. Whittington is 3 miles SE of Litchfield in Staffordshire, the barracks are about a mile SW of the village.

There are historical pictures of the barracks with descriptions here . The barracks still exist and are still being used today.

At the end of 1913 he passed out of the School of Musketry at Hythe with a distinguished grade.

There is a 10 minute radio clip about the Musketry School in WW1 here https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p01wsb1y .The school was particularly to teach officers and NCOs how to train other men.

These photos from the Imperial War Musuem collection show the Hythe school in 1915.

The school of musketry is shown on this 1908 map, with numerous rifle ranges marked out to the south, ranges up to 2,000 yards.

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In 1914 he is in a photo of the 1st battalion at Lichfield, at the bottom right corner. Notice almost every single man has a moustache ! Photo kindly supplied by the York Army Museum, donated by the Prince of Wales' Own ( West Yorkshire Regiment) in 2008. The photo description says Litchfield, but perhaps this was also at the Whittington barracks near Litchfield.

The crossed rifles and crown on his upper right arm indicate that he was a sergeant instructor in musketry, and probably the partially obscured skill at arms badge on his lower left arm is crossed rifles within a wreath, surmounted by a star which would indicate best shot in the battalion.

After WW1 broke out Simeon was billeted at Whitburn army camp whilst acting as a musketry instructor. Whitburn was in County Durham, and is now incorporated into the county of Tyne & Wear. The 3rd batallion were assigned to coastal defense.

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They had two children :- my grandmother Kathleen ( known as Kay ) in 1912 and Thomas in 1914.

This photo shows Sarah, Thomas, Kay and Simeon, must have been end of 1914 or very early 1915.

This is Simeon Daly in uniform, and a postcard he sent to his young daughter Kay from Whitburn. The message read "Hope you like the bow-wow".

The family visited Simeon at Whitburn, these photos are his two children beside the army tents.

The Newcastle Daily Journal of May 24th 1915 recorded that Colour Sergeant S.T. Daly of the 3rd battalion West Yorks took part in a military sports day at the Horsley Hill football ground in South Shields. He won two rounds to get through to the finals of the 100 yards flat race for NCOs and men, and came third in the final, close up to the winner. He also won a heat of the 120 yards flat race for Sergeants. Another newspaper talking about the same event said that "For individual ability, the leading honours were appropriated by the 3rd West Yorkshire Regiment, through the medium of the magnificent feats of Colour-Sergeant Daly" ( ... and 3 others ). "Colour-Sergeant Daly of the 3rd West Yorks ranked as the most successful pedestrian" ( any race on foot). "He won the 100 yards, the sergeants 220 yards and the quarter-mile flat scratch events in dashing style". The event was even reported as far away as Sheffield

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The 3rd battalion stayed in the UK throughout the war as a training battalion as part of the Tyne garrison. We do not know exactly when Simeon transferred to active service, but he was already in France when he wrote to John Daly's commanding officer to ask more about his death on 20th July 1916. Family lore has it that Simeon had a perfectly safe UK posting and could have remained there for the duration but, upon hearing of the death of his brother, asked for an active service posting to revenge his brother's death. Presumably this was why he transferred to the 12th battalion. On 19th August 1916 the 12th battalion diary records "Reg Sgt Daly reported for duty". He had written his will 3 days earlier, on the 16th. At this time they were in action at Guillemont on the Somme, only about a mile from where his brother had died one month ago. So at the age of only 26 he was already the Regimental Sergeant Major.

( The 12th ( Service ) battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment were formed at York on 16 September 1914 as part of K3 and came under orders of 63rd Brigade, 21st Division.
In September 1915 they were landed at Le Havre and on 16 November 1915 transferred to 9th Brigade, 3rd Division. )

During the autumn, winter and the spring of 1917 the battalion spent much of the time away from the front line, but spent some times in trenches around Serre, just north of the Somme battlefields, and Courcelles between Arras and the Somme, with 1 or 2 men killed every day by shelling. At the end of January 1917 they marched to the area north-west of Arras and were then training continuously until mid-February when they marched into Arras. They held trenches in front of Arras for two weeks, then on 1st April moved 8 miles west to Wanquetin for 3 days in "rest billets preparing for the forthcoming operations".

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The battle of Arras was the British and Canadian Army's planned spring offensive for 1917, but unfortunately the weather was as bad as the middle of winter. The best known part of this battle was the capture of Vimy ridge by the Canadians, but the part of the battle fought by Simeon Daly's division is known as the first battle of the Scarpe. The whole battle was designed to draw German reinforcements away from the Aisne sector further south before the French attacked on April 15th, but many of the French soldiers here mutinied and refused to go over the top. The battle of Arras was continued to at least the 4th May, to cover the French.

On 4th April the battalion marched 8 miles east from billets in Wanquetin to Arras. For 3 nights they stayed in cellars under ruined houses in Arras.

In preparation for the battle, the New Zealand tunneling company and others had connected several underground quarries, and joined the tunnels up to the Crincron Sewer to make safe underground routes for soldiers to advance to the front. The 12th West Yorks' diary gives the route that they followed on the 8th April :-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We recently visited the Wellington underground quarry (Cave), called la Carrière Wellington

Copy of Daily Mail article ( scroll past some blogs in Dutch)

Description of guided tour

The tour passes by the end of the tunnel joining Wellington to Auckland quarry.

This map shows the creeping barrage on the opening day, moving forward every 4 minutes from the front line to Tilloy les Moufflines (bottom right)

The map below shows the 9th brigade's attacks during the battle. The attack initially was very sucessful. The 76th brigade captured the Black line, then the 12th West Yorks passed through at 7am, and by 8.30am had already captured the whole of the village of Tilloy les Mofflaines. This batallion alone captured 3 machine guns, plus trench morters, boxes of ammunition etc.

During the 10th April they were consolidating the line and carrying ammunition up. The battalion diary notes "the weather was extremely cold with snow showers and the Battalion spent a most trying and miserable time in this location without shelter of any description". On the evening of the 11th they marched up to occupy trenches at the Brown line, south of the Cambrai Road, east of Les Foss farm. On the 12th they cleared up this line. Meanwhile other units were moving up from the south-west, and captured the village of Wancourt on the 12th.

On the 13th they were ordered to attack Guemappe, the attack was launched at 6pm. The diary says "every endeavour was made to push on but the enemy's line was too strong. After dark they were instructed to withdraw.

A history of the 3rd division gives more details :- The commander of the 50th division asked the 3rd division to attack Guemape, to support their attack up the Cojeul valley ( past Heninel ?). The 3rd division commander believed that the 50th would seize the Wancourt Tower which overlooked Guemappe. "When the West Yorkshires advanced on Guemappe they were exposed to devasting flanking fire from Wancourt Tower where Germans were seen standing in the open to fire across the valley."

12 other ranks were killed, including Simeon Daly.

 

He was initially buried in an isolated cemetary south of the main road, at the blue dot above the number 10.

 

Then the bodies were concentrated at Wancourt cemetary, on the south-east side of the village, he is buried in area IV, row E11 in the graveyard..

 

Simeon's widow only started receiving a pension 6 months later, a weekly pension of 21s 3d, plus 9s 2d for the 2 children, starting on 29th October 1917. She also got a sum of £29 14s 9d, presumably Simeon's savings, not paid until 28th Dec 1917, and £25 10s as a war gratuity on 19th November 1919, both listed in the "soldier's effects register".

His sister Ethel visited his grave soon after the war, when there were just wooden crosses. I visited with my family in 1999, the picture shows Simeon's great-great grandson Jonathon.

In 2014 we managed to have a big family visit to the grave during an escorted holiday. So the photo shows me ( Simeon's great grand-son), Mum, (grand-daughter), Dad (grandson-in-law), my son Jonathon (great great grand-son), and Geoff (great grand-son).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . He is also remembered on the the war memorial at St. Oswald's church, Fulford, York.

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And I was surprised and pleased to see him also mentioned in "Walking Arras", by Paul Reed, published by Pen and Sword, in the section describing Wancourt cemetary, page 187. Jim Smithson is also preparing a guide book including the photo of Ethel at the grave.

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Many thanks to Jeremy Banning for visiting Wancourt cemetery, improving our old photo of the cemetery and all the other information and advice.

Also many thanks to researcher Paul Nixon who has recently given us a lot more information.

And thanks to the very kindly taxi driver from Alliance Taxis in Arras who was so interested in our family, and expressed his gratitude to Simeon Daly coming to fight for France.

Sources :-

Cheerful sacrifice, the battle of Arras, Jonathon Nicholls

Iron division, the history of the 3rd division, Robin McNich

The war diary of the 12th (service) battalion of the West Yorks regiment.

See also Arras, the Spring 1917 offensive in panoramas. Peter Barton with Jeremy Banning.

Return to Daly brothers home page.