Henry Kenyon Daniel, one of a family of local Ramsgate solicitors, had been a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Cinque Ports Volunteer Artillery since 1897. In October 1914 he received his commission in the Territorial Force as a Captain in the 3rd Home Counties (Cinque Ports) brigade of the Royal Field Artillery.
In January 1915 he was promoted to the rank of temporary Major. On 8th August 1915 Henry Kenyon Daniel sailed for France. Travelling by a circuitous route via Rouen, St Omer and Armentieres he eventually reached the 1st Canadian Division where he joined the 3rd Artillery Brigade. He saw action around the village of Ploegsteert where he soon got used to British and German shells whizzing overhead. He and his fellow officers visited Observation Satations and chose suitable sites for new ones. They also “registered” the range for the guns to hit the German front line trenches which in places were barely 200 yards away. Major Kenyon Daniel returned to England on 23rd August.
In August 1917 Henry Kenyon Daniel reverted to the rank of captain and set off for France once more. He sailed from Southampton to Le Havre on 8th August 1917. On being posted to the 16th (Irish) Divisional Artillery he travelled to Poperinghe. First he was attached temporarily to “A Battery” of the 180th Brigade so that he could gain some experience of conditions on the Ypres Salient before being given command of B Battery. Less than eight days after leaving England he was taking part in a heavy attack just east of Ypres.
On the 28th August his battery left the Ypres Salient to go by train to Bapaume, a town on the road between Amiens and Albert. His battery was in the countryside nearby and was in telephone communication with Brigade HQ at all times. Captain Daniel then heard that his promotion from Captain to Substantive Major had appeared in the London Gazette on 16th August. He was appointed to command B Battery of the 180th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery on 1st November.The first major attack took place on 19th November near Cambrai. At the end of December the Brigade marched for two days to their new position about eight miles east of Peronne. Towards the end of February the Brigade was taken out of the line and sent down to the waggon lines to re-drill and rest.
At 4.30am on 21st March a major attack commenced. Visibility was very difficult due to dawn mist mixing with gas shells. The major’s brigade spent the next few months in the thick of the fighting in the Somme valley west of Peronne. They were later moved up to fight in the Merville sector near Amiens and then moved nearer to Arras.
On 2nd September Major Daniel’s battery were ordered to march to the La Bassee sector to re-join the infantry of the 16th Division who were inferior in physique and training. The area was so shell torn and pitted with mine craters that it was nearly impossible to find positions for gun batteries. Early in October the German troops began to retreat. The major’s battery began to move forward to the east into areas which had been occupied by the Germans so they had to be on the look-out for booby-traps or mines.
The enemy dug in at the Haute-Deule Canal by by 15th October the Germans had retired levaing huge craters behind to delay the Allied advance.On 16th October Major Daniel was told that he would soon be returning for a tour of duty in England. His battery advanced across France into Belgium in the wake of the Germans. Major Daniel arrived back in England on 22nd October and after three weeks leave spent Armistice Day in London. He was Mentioned in Dispatches in the London Gazette on 23rd December 1918. While waiting to be released from the army in January 1919 he wrote a diary of his second period of service entitled “With a Battery in France in 1917 and 1918”.
In April 1919 Major Daniel was present at the vestry meeting in St George’s Parish Hall in Broad Street held to decide on the provision of a lady chapel at St George’s Church, and a war memorial to be erected in the churchyard. (See separate article)
The firm of Daniel and Edwards, Solicitors, is still in business in Ramsgate today. The current Mr Daniel is the sixth generation of his family to work in the family business.