Harry Daniels VC MC

b. 13/12/1884 Wymondham, Norfolk. d. 13/12/1953 Leeds, Yorkshire.

Harry Daniels (1884-1953) was born at Market Street, Wymondham, Norfolk on 13th December 1884. His father was William Daniels, a baker and confectioner. His mother was Elizabeth nee Snelling, known as Eliza. His parents married in 1866 in Norwich. The family lived in Wymondham for six years until returning to Norwich. He is known to have at least four brothers and five sisters and was reputedly the 13th of 16 children. Sadly, by the time Harry was ten, both his parents were dead and he and one of his brothers were brought up in the Norwich Board of Guardians Boys Home in St Faith’s Lane, Norwich.

Harry Daniels VC 2

Harry was educated at Thorpe Hamlet Boy’s School, Norwich. He earned the nickname “Spitfire” as he frequently went missing – on one occasion for two months working as a cabin boy on a fishing smack. He was eventually apprenticed as a carpenter and joiner, but did not complete the apprenticeship.

Harry enlisted in the Rifle Brigade on 31st January 1903 and trained at Gosport and Chatham. He served in India with 2nd Battalion from 1905 and was in the band for a period. He was a keen sportsman, winning the regimental lightweight and welterweight boxing championships. He was promoted to Corporal in 1909 and Sergeant in 1910. At a Christmas dance in 1912 he met Kathleen Mary Perry, the daughter of a Warrant Officer in the Manchester Regiment. They were married on 21st January 1914 in Calcutta, but did not have any children.

The Battalion sailed from Bombay on 20th September 1914, landing in Liverpool on 22nd October and moved to Winchester, where it joined the newly formed 25th Brigade, 8th Division. He was appointed Company Quarter Master Sergeant and landed at Le Havre on 7th November. He was soon promoted to Company Sergeant Major by the end of the year.

On 12th March 1915 at Neuve Chapelle, France, his unit was ordered into an advance on the German trenches across no-man’s land which was covered by machine guns and strewn with barbed wire. Daniels and another man, Cecil Reginald Noble, voluntarily rushed in front with cutters and attacked the wires They were both wounded at once, Noble dying later of his wounds.

Following his VC action, Daniels was evacuated to England and treated at the Military Orthopaedic Hospital, Hammersmith, where he learned of his award from a newspaper. He received his medal from King George V at Buckingham Palace on 15th May 1915. Harry returned to Norwich with his wife on 10th June where he was presented with a purse of gold by the Sheriff, Mr Frances Horner. He was commissioned on 23rd July and returned to France soon after. In September, the Lord Mayor received a telegram stating that Harry Daniels had been killed in action. It was not until his relatives received field postcards from him that the error was realised.

On the 2nd March 1916, at Fromelles, France, he rescued a wounded man from the edge of the enemy wire and carried him 300 yards to safety. He also led a party to find a wounded corporal and bring him back in. For these actions, he was gazetted for the Military Cross on 30th March 1916. Harry was wounded on 3rd July 1916 and his arm was fractured. He was promoted to Lieutenant in August and from 1917 to July 1918 he was Assistant Superintendent Physical and Bayonet Training. He was appointed Adjutant Aldershot HQ Gymnastic Staff on 26th February 1919. He became a Freemason in the Aldershot Camp Lodge No 1331 in 1920. He was promoted to Captain on 9th April 1921.

He then transferred into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment on 11th November 1922, but reverted to the Rifle Brigade and was appointed Assistant Provost Marshal Aldershot Command from 1921 to 1925. He retired from the Army on 26th April 1930 and managed hotels in Dovercourt, Abergavenny and Chester until being re-employed by the Army as Chief Recruiting Officer North Western Division in the rank of Captain from 11th November 1932. He was granted the local rank of Lieutenant Colonel in December 1934 while Chief Recruiting Officer East Lancashire. He ended the employment in 1942 and given the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Harry managed the Crown Hotel at Woodbridge, Suffolk until becoming manager of the Grand Theatre and Opera House in Leeds in 1943. Sadly, his wife became terminally ill in 1949 and sadly died later that year. Harry himself passed away at Ida and Robert Arthington Hospital, Leeds on 13th December 1953. He was cremated at Lawnswood Crematorium and his ashes were scattered on the fields of Aldershot Cricket Club. In addition to his VC and MC, he was awarded the 1914 Star with Mons clasp, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, 1939-45 Defence Medal and Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953. His medals are held by the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester.






Thomas Stewart – Images of the two different displays of Daniels’ VC medal group at the Royal Green Jackets Museum, Winchester.

Brian Drummond – Freemason’s Memorial, London.