21st Division 1914-18...a divisional history

Lt-Colonel Francis Edward Lloyd Daniell


Francis Daniell born 19th December 1874, was the youngest son of a former officer of the Gordon Highlanders. Educated at the Philberds, Maidenhead, Malvern College and finally the Royal Military College Sandhurst passing out with honours being commissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders in 1895, The Times states he was an Honorary Queens Cadet

His first taste of action was to be involved in the occupation of Crete in 1897 following this a year later to be part of the Sudan expedition seeing action at the battle of Atbara,and then Omdurman for which he received a mention in despatches (London Gazette 24th may 1898). He was also entitled to the British Medal and Egyptian Medal with clasp.

A year later he went to South Africa, with the commencement of the Boer War. From 1899 until 1901 he served as a special service officer and then on the staff, taking part in the operations in the Transvaal from the 30th November 1900 until May 1901. After this the army shifted to the Cape Colony and from May to September 1901 he saw action, earning the Queens South African Medal with four clasps.

From November 1902 until May 1906 he took on the responsibility of the position of adjutant of the 1st battalion Seaforth Highlanders. He married Maude Esmee, daughter of General H W Duperior of the Royal Engineers, who had held the position of Director-General of Military Works in India. The following year he was on the North West Frontier taking part in operations in the Zakka Khel and the Mohmand countries, receiving a medal with clasp. On 29th February he was seconded to the staff and followed this by graduating the Staff college Quetta in India on 5th April 1909. After holding a position of Brigade Major, on the 20th September 1911 he took up a position of GSO2 on a divisional staff, relinquishing this on the 5th April 1913. By December 1913 he had gained his of Majority.

War saw him in a staff position and he was mentioned in despatches in the London gazette on the 14th October 1914. He was awarded the DSO on the 18th February 1915 for services in the field.

Daniell was appointed to the position of GSO1 21st division on the 16th August 1915, replacing Lt-Colonel F Cunliffe-Owen, who left the position on the 21st of June. The position had been temporarily held by Major D Forster. It is unclear if Daniell was requested by the then divisional commander, Forestier-Walker, there paths had certainly crossed(1). He had the ignominy of seeing the division gain a poor, though unfair, reputation following the battle of Loos, where 21st division were badly used by the senior commanders. However unlike the divisional commander Major-General Forestier-Walker, he kept his position following investigation into the divisions performance.

Upon the appointment of Claude Jacob as divisional commander on the 18th November 1915 he worked hard with his new chief to bring up not just the ability but the reputation of the men. When Major-General Jacob visited Corps headquarters on the 4th March 1916, Daniell accompanied him. The division war dairy entry for the 4th March states;

 

Early in the day there was little artillery activity. At 5pm the enemy shelled Armetieres,Houplines and Nieppe, 15cm, 10.5cm howitzers and field guns were firing. The H.A.group shelled Lille in retaliation and the divisional artillery shelled Quesnoy, Frelinghien, Le Falot, La Prevote and Perenchies..[it then follows in pencil, obviously added later after the original had been typed up] Major-General Jacob was wounded during the bombardmentand Lt-Colonel Daniell DSO, GSO1 was killed.

 

Lt-Colonel Francis Edward Lloyd Daniell was buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, in Armetieres he was 41 years of age. His death is a clear example that staff officers were not excused the dangers of the battlefield. He was replaced on the 7th March by Lt-Colonel Paley, the war had to go on, but Francis Daniell had help set the foundations with Jacob to raise the battlefield experience and moral of the division, after the reverse at Loos. Others would take on the mantle to finish the job.

 

Notes

1 A report in The Times of 23rd January shows Daniell at a Staff College dinner. Major-General (then Colonel) G T Forestier-Walker was also present on this occasion. It is easy to assume that their paths also crossed in the years leading up to war. Forestier-Walker would have realised he needed a capable, experienced GSO1 and they were few and far between by August 1915!