Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Colwyn Bay’s players and officials have honoured a fallen hero to support the Football Association’s campaign to mark the 100th anniversary of the ending of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest of World War One.
To back the Living Memory Project, a joint campaign between the FA and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), and mark the anniversary of Flight Sergeant Ewell Daniell’s death exactly 100 years ago on November 3 1916.
The Battle of the Somme was one of the bloodiest in human history after starting on July 1 1916 and lasting 141 days. When it finally ended on 18 November, more than one million lay dead and wounded and the FA are encouraging football clubs to mark the anniversary by visiting war graves in their communities.
Aged 26 when he was killed after arriving in the UK as a volunteer from Winnipeg in Canada, the early aviator flew with the 19th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps who flew over enemy lines to take crucial reconnaissance photographs and drop over 290 tons of bombs. More than 800 aircraft were lost and Daniell was one of more than 250 aircrew killed before his body was returned to North Wales for a full military funeral.
Sadly, by then he had been married a little over a year to local girl Hilda May Whitley and didn’t live to see the birth of his baby son. It is believed the steering rod broke on his aircraft and he tried unsuccessfully to wrestle the control off a companion who was gripped by fear and would not let go.
His grave, where his wife, who never remarried, also lays after she passed away in 1940, had become totally overgrown and forgotten in recent years before being uncovered and cleaned and tidied up with a number of others by local volunteers.
WW1 historian and North Wales Pals researcher Lorraine Lister organised the event on behalf of the FA and the EVO-STIK NPL First Division North club.
He said: “He is a forgotten man – now remembered. A brave man who died trying to save another and we thank Colwyn Bay Football Club for helping to mark the 100th anniversary of his death at this special time of remembrance.
“The players were a credit and absolutely in the spirit of the initiative the CWGC and Football Association are undertaking with clubs across the country.”
Colwyn Bay took part in the latest initiative by the FA to mark a number of milestones during World War One. In December 2014, all 68 clubs commemorated the centenary of one of the war’s most iconic moments – the 1914 Christmas Truce.
As part of remembrance activity for ‘Football Remembers Week’, clubs helped to create a unique photographic record of football one hundred years on by having mixed squad photos taken before kick-off for posting on new commemorative website www.footballremembers.com.
A joint collaboration between The Football Association, the Premier League, the Football League and the British Council, the campaign aimed to engage football fans and players at every level about what took place when soldiers from both sides put down their weapons and crossed into ‘no man’s land’ to share in an impromptu ceasefire.
First-hand accounts from the time include references to football being played and photographs being taken up and down the front during the first Christmas of the global conflict that is estimated to have cost the lives of at least nine million combatants and seven million civilians between 1914-18.