Lest We Forget - a life discovered

Submitted by barefootedsurf… on Thu, 11/11/2021 - 11:11

Today's card G075-160 [tobacco : UK] Gallaher "Great War Victoria Cross Heroes" (1915) 32/200 was issued by Gallaher in 1915/1916, and it is just one card from eight sets each of twenty five cards and each showing a winner of the Victoria Cross. This medal, for bravery, is rarely given, yet these 200 were, and that is just in the first years of what came to be called "The Great War", for these sets stop abruptly without recording the heroes of the remainder of 1916, or the whole of 1917, and 1918, or those who died between then and 1920, who may not have been under fire but were often involved in tasks like clearing unexploded bombs and mines.

Strangely, this set, or at least series 1 and 2 of it, was also issued "overseas" in 1916 and 1917. This was by B. & J.B. Machado who operated the very exotic sounding "La Tropical" Cigarette Factory in Kingston Jamaica. You can read more about them at https://www.flickr.com/photos/28320522@N08/2642331073/ but there is no idea of why they should issue this set!

At approximately the same time Gallaher was issuing these cards they also issued two sets each of a hundred cards entitled "The Great War Series" which showed events from the War. The second series shows a most curious error on card 147 (second series) which shows a rifleman, of which the first printing showed the rifle on the wrong side. A corrected card was hastily issued. It is unknown whether it was intended that all these cards made a single set but the Victoria Cross Heroes have blue framelines whilst the Great War Series were black. By the publication of our Gallaher reference book RB4 in 1944 it was known that the violet tone of the back on our cards varied considerably, and that one "error" had been found, this was card no.7 from the first series, which can be found titled Capt. Dimmer and Brig.-Gen.Dimmer. It is likely other men were promoted but I have not found notice of any more similar changes. Does anyone out there know of a list, either one in print, or one they are working on for their own pleasure. If so, do please share.

Most participants from these shores were not in the right place to be awarded the Victoria Cross, instead they had what came to be known as Pip Squeak and Wilfrid, a combination of the 1914 medal in the shape of a triangulated cross, the War medal, made of silver, and the Victory Medal. These people have no card to remember them by, they rely on family tales to stay alive, and only in very rare cases is that shared with even the local museum.

Looking at this set the first thing you notice is that the subjects are ordinary people, they come from all across the land, and before the war they probably walked through their area without attention. And this was true, sadly, afterwards, if they came home, if they could walk, or see, they often suffered hardship, and scorn, and struggled to exist in a peacetime world whose noise constantly reminded them of the battlefield, and their friends who were no more. 

Look through this set, if you get a chance, and any others, for there will almost certainly be a person who lived near you, whose life you could trace, and whose location, though probably altered in larger cities, is still very much your area. I picked our man because I liked his handlebar moustache, it fitted in with movember , plus it made him looks fun, friendly, the sort of person I would enjoy talking to, and it turns out he was a Norfolk man, which gives me no surprise, but much pleasure. So for today I will think of him, and throughout today, attempt to trace as much of his story, which, like all of the stories in this set, deserve that chance to be pulled from the mists of time and told.

I know he was born on 13 December, 1884, in Wymondham, Norfolk, one of thirteen children, and that he won the VC on March 12, 1915 along with his companion Cecil Reginald Noble, Two really good biographies can be found at  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Daniels - and - http://www.vconline.org.uk/harry-daniels-vc/4586494756  which shows the picture section of our card, plus, at the top, another card! This was issued by Home and Colonial Stores, and it is from "War Heroes" (1916) issued with their "Perfect Margarine".

Dogged determination also found him as card 76 of Cohen Weenen`s "Victoria Cross Heroes" (1916) as Sgt Maj H.M. Daniels, which again gives the date of his bravery. It is actually the same photo as on the Gallaher set, this was taken by Farringdon, who I cannot trace.

He also appears, with Corporal Noble, in the act of winning the Victoria Cross on Dobson, Molle & Co., Ltd " V.C. Heroes " card no,7

He also won the Military Cross, about a year later. The citation for that is at https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/29528/supplement/3428

You can see twelve seconds of him in his uniform, but no sound and little movement, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNTenA8HARs  - this was shot by Pathe and even they have no idea of the identity of his companion, but the VC Online website, which contains much great contemporary data, reveals this to be his wife, Kathleen, who died childless during the Second World War.

He died ten years later aged just 69, of heart failure in Leeds. Unfortunately there is no headstone and was cremated and scattered in the memorial gardens, (as well as on the grounds of Aldershot Cricket Club). He does have a memorial set at the obelisk in Vicar Street, Wymondham, see https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/wmYF8W_Lt_Col_Harry_Daniels_VC_MC_Vicar_Street_Wymondham_Norfolk  This reveals him to have been Norfolk's first Victoria Cross hero of the First World War and that he is commemorated with a road name, Harry Daniels Close in South Wymondham.