1915 Interview with RMR Signaller Thomas S. Daniel

Sunday, May 16, 1915

In billets, Mont Bernenchon

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “All ranks resting.  Orders received at night to move early next morning.” [1]

16 May 15THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY:  “John Kidman – (Special Correspondent of the Montreal Gazette) London, May 14. – For the past ten days, hospital trains have been bearing large numbers of Canadian wounded from Southampton and Folkestone to near and distant parts of the United Kingdom, these men for the most part being survivors of the Hill 60 and St. Julien actions. Although the original plan of the Canadian Red Cross Society was that our wounded should be drafted, whenever possible to the Duchess of Connaught Hospital, at Cliveden, near Taplow, and the Queen’s Canadian Military Hospital, at Beachborough Park, Shorncliffe, the accommodation of both these institutions is fully taken up, though both are being enlarged, and in the meantime Canadians have been distributed to various centres such as London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Lincoln and Manchester, as well as to numerous cottage hospitals up and down the country. This entails much extra labour at the Red Cross centres and Col. Hodgetts is trying to persuade the military authorities to give preference to the Canadian hospitals, or to at least group Canadians together in large parties.

The Gazette representative has during the past week visited the two Canadian hospitals and also a few smaller institutions where wounded officers and men are to be found. So severe were the injuries received by some that it was impossible for them to be seen, while others who have been able to converse had but hazy recollections of the awful conflict. The experiences of certain officers and men have been already sent in cable despatches but the following additions may be of interest…

Private. T.S. Daniel,* 1st R.M.R., 14th Royal Montreal, who was formerly with The Royal Trust Company, is in Splott Hospital at Cardiff. Speaking German, he was on fairly intimate terms with a wounded Prussian Guardsman, who was a prisoner.

‘In one conversation we were discussing the attitude of Holland,’ said Daniel, ‘and I asked him whether in his opinion Holland would join in the war? The Prussian gave an emphatic ‘No’ and added that three weeks before he was captured he was at Essen and saw Queen Wilhelmina there. She visited Krupp’s works accompanied by the Kaiser.’

FATE OF GERMAN SPYAnother story told by Pte. Daniel was about a spy. On one occasion the 14th heard that a big British gun had been brought within a mile of them, and some of them went to inspect it. A Canadian officer was noticed in the vicinity of the gun, and it was supposed he was attached to one of the battalions. A keen observer noted the fact that whenever this officer approached certain cross roads, shells fell around the new gun. Suspicion being aroused, the “officer” was invited to go to headquarters, and when he was searched, plans of batteries were found on him, as well as details of British troops along the line. Although he spoke English without foreign accent, he was a spy, and was shot before the day was over.

Every bed is now filled in the Queen’s Hospital at Shorncliffe, the number of patients being 63, mostly Canadians. Col. Surgeon Armour had a busy week in the operating theatre and performed operations for several hours on five days.”[3]

* Note: Signaller (Private) Thomas Sidney Daniel, #26043, was born in Glamorganshire, Wales in 1883. He served 3 mos. with the Glamorganshire Artillery before emigrating to Canada. On the outbreak of war he enlisted with the Victoria Rifles of Canada and was transferred to the 14th Battalion, and assigned to “E” Company as a Signaller. He died at Okanagan Landing, B.C. on Nov. 17, 1935, and is buried in Vernon, B.C.

[1]  War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, May 16, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089732.jpg
[2] “Stories of Great Fight – Wounded Canadians Relate their Thrilling Experiences,” The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec, Monday, May 17, 1915, pg. 6, col. 4.
[3]   Ibid.

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