DELANY, Cecil Sylvester
(Service number 7/949)
|First Rank||Trooper||Last Rank||Gunner|
|Date||18 June 1880||Place of Birth||Arrowtown|
|Date||17 December 1914||Age||34 years 5 months|
|Address at Enlistment||55 Elizabeth Street, Timaru|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs DELANY (mother), 67 Main North Road, North-East Valley, Dunedin|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 5¼ inches. Weight 146 lbs. Chest measurement 32¼-35 inches. Complexion fair. Eyes brown. Hair brown. Sight & hearing both good. Colour vision correct. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||4th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Canterbury Mounted Rifles|
|Date||17 April 1915|
|Transport||Willochra or Knight Templar or Waitomo|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||3rd Battalion, New Zealand Field Artillery|
|Campaigns||Balkan (Gallipoli); Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western Front (France)|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
27 August 1915 - wounded at Dardanelles – head wound, shock. 29 August - invalided to England by hospital ship. 12 September 1915 - admitted to Lord Derby War Hospital, Warrington. 17 February 1916 - admitted to NZ General Hospital, Cairo - defective vision.
|Date||5 October 1916||Age||36 years|
|Place of Death||Somme, France|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Notices||Otago Daily Times, 19 October 1916; New Zealand Tablet, 26 October 1916|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Serre Road Cemetery No 2, Somme, France|
|Memorial Reference||Plot XXI, Row C, Grave 5/7|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Cecil Sylvester Delany was the youngest son of Irish born James Delany and his Australian born wife, Sarah Frances née Bonney. His father James was a postmaster, stationed at Arrowtown for twenty years until he was transferred to Lawrence in the early 1890s and subsequently to Lyttelton, before retiring to Dunedin. Sarah Bonney was selected by Bishop Moran to open Catholic schools on the Otago goldfields and taught at Arrowtown and Cromwell. It was at Arrowtown that James and Sarah married in 1873 and their four sons and one daughter were born, Cecil on 18 June 1880. Cecil’s early education was at St Patrick’s School, Arrowtown. There he received a prize in 1891 for 4th class grammar and for catechism and christian doctrine. Bishop Moran, in examining the school on 10 December 1891, congratulated the teacher “on her excellent and painstaking teaching as evidenced in the children's examination. The answering in the three R's, history and grammar would do credit to far more pretentious schools; and he was glad to know that the discipline and moral culture of the scholars was on a par with their proficiency in secular subjects.” After Arrowtown, Cecil went to St Patrick’s School at Lawrence. There in December 1893, at the concert preceding the prize-giving, Master Cecil Delany “acted the part of the stern parent very cleverly for one so young” in the recitation and tableaux “Santa Claus”. And he was among the prize recipients, passing Standard V and getting the prize for writing and drawing. His mother had donated five of the prizes. He also played key parts in the school’s entertainment in August 1894. His role as the Governor of Cappadocia, “bearded as a pard” and thirsting for blood, was well executed in the tableaux “St Dorthy”. He and his sister played the parts of two interrupting lecturers in the comic production of “The Undergraduates”. In the December 1894 concert, Cecil delivered a recitation “Fontenoy” with great success, even though “the sentiment and purpose of the piece demand much higher powers than so young a lad can be expected to possess.” He also excelled in the part of Shylock in the trial scene from Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice”. In that year he received the Standard VI prize for Homework, and his mother again donated prizes.
Cecil finished his schooling at the Christian Brothers’ School in Dunedin. He was very active in discussions conducted by the Dunedin Catholic Literary Society, and gave recitations at the regular meetings. He played the part of Mr Hartogg, a Jewish diamond merchant, in the society’s presentation of “Henry Dunbar” in October 1897, to raise funds for a new hall. A concert was held to celebrate the Irish National Festival in March 1899, Cecil Delany playing his part in a farcical comedy, “The Irish Attorney” with much success. He tied for first place in a progressive euchre tournament conducted by the Dunedin Catholic Men’s Social Club in July 1899. At the Catholic bazaar held at Port Chalmers in November 1899, Mr Cecil Delany who had charge of the fish pond, was an immense success. “This gentleman throughout the evening was surrounded by a crowd of admirers.”
By 1905 he was a draper, living with his parents at Lyttelton. There he was the secretary of the Lyttelton Conference of the Society of St Vincent de Paul and, working with the utmost enthusiasm and energy, was instrumental in the success of a grand evening of entertainment in July 1905. Although he was engaged in farm labouring at Waihao Downs in 1911, he discharged his duties as secretary at a function in Christchurch in mid 1913. In 1914 Cecil Delany was residing at 55 Elizabeth Street, Timaru, which address he gave when he enlisted on 17 December 1914 at Trentham Military Camp. He was posted to the Canterbury Mounted Rifles at this date. One newspaper report states that Cecil Sylvester Delany was appointed orderly to Major Bowie, and subsequently attached to Lieutenants Guinness and Cheeseman. Then 34 years 5 months old, a draper or farm labourer, single and Roman Catholic, he named his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs Delany, 67 Main North Road, North-East Valley, Dunedin. Cecil Sylvester Delany was 5 feet 5¼ inches tall, weighed 146 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 32¼-35 inches. His complexion was fair, his eyes and hair brown. His sight, hearing, colour vision and teeth were all good, his limbs and chest well formed, and his heart and lungs normal. Free diseases and defects, and vaccinated, he was in good bodily and mental health.
Trooper C. S. Delany embarked on 17 April 1915 embarked at Wellington with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles (4th Reinforcements). Trooper Delany, of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles, was taken on strength at the Dardanelles on 23 August 1915, only to be wounded there on 27 August 1915, suffering a head wound and shock. The report of the Dardanelles casualties filtered through to the newspapers almost a month later. The Manawatu Times of 21 September 1915 relays a correspondent’s vivid description of the situation at Anzac in the last week of August 1915. “The gallant Australians and New Zealanders were galled on for yet another effort and responded with their usual courage and devotion. As the result Knoll 60 passed finally into our hands and 400 acres of ground were added to Anzac knoll, the last crest of the last ridge separating Anzac from the northward plain. The Turks clung to the knoll with the utmost determination. When flung out of their trench by the irresistible rush of the Australians and New Zealanders the enemy would bomb their way back again, accepting terrible loss unflinchingly. When the trenches were finally captured they were full of the enemy’s dead. It took three days’ hard fighting to turn out the Turks and the ground over which we charged is still thickly strewn with the bodies of the enemy’s dead and our slain. . . . . . . . . . The world realises now how the Australians and New Zealanders fought but it is not known how they dug in, heaved and carried when not fighting.” But the digging in, heaving, carrying, pushing, advancing, attacking were not without significant casualties and loss. Many Canterbury men were wounded or killed in action, Trooper Delany among the wounded. [See newspaper attachment.]
He was evacuated to England per the Hospital Ship Devanha on 29 August 1915. It was 12 September when he was admitted to the Lord Derby War Hospital at Warrington. After recovering he returned from England to Active Service per the “Briton”, disembarking at Alexandria on 23 January 1916, and rejoined his unit. On 26 January he had forfeited two days pay at Alexandria. On 17 February, however, he was admitted to the New Zealand General Hospital at Cairo with defective vision. He rejoined his unit at Zeitoun on Leap Day. He was attached to the 3rd Battalion, New Zealand Field Artillery, on 11 March and embarked at Egypt for France on 6 April 1916.
Casualty List No. 432 carried the sad news that Gunner Cecil Sylvester Delany had been killed in action at the Somme, France on 5 October 1916. He was 36 years old. Initially buried with two other soldiers 50 yards west of Flers, he was buried in Serre Road Cemetery No 2, Somme, France. Delany had served in all theatres of the war - Balkan (Gallipoli), Egyptian, Egyptian Expeditionary Force and Western Front (France). His medals - 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal – were sent to his mother in 1921 after she and her husband had moved to Mosgiel. The memorial plaque and scroll were sent to his father, also in 1921 at Mosgiel.
Mrs Sarah Frances Delany died in January 1921 at Mosgiel, while Mr James Delany died on Christmas Day 1923 at Christchurch, having taken seriously ill while on his way from Mosgiel to the North Island. They were survived by three sons, the eldest being a priest and later monsignor, and one daughter. Father James Patrick Delany had the privilege of performing the marriage ceremony for his two other brothers (Francis Christopher and Vincent Joseph) and his only sister (Mary Elizabeth, Daisy). This was never to be for Cecil. All three brothers of Cecil were listed on the World War I Reserve Rolls, two of them married men with families. In 1961 Cecil’s brother, Francis Christopher Delany, contacted the Department of Internal Affairs for a record of Cecil’s war service and to determine the location of Cecil’s grave. The Army Department replied that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had advised that 7/949 Gunner C. S. Delany, whose name was originally inscribed on the Caterpillar Valley (New Zealand) Memorial, had been buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.2, France. His name was removed from the Memorial after his grave was located. Mr F. C. Delany was advised to get in touch with New Zealand House in London if he intended visiting his brother’s grave. Being 87 years old, he did not intend visiting but would write to his nephew who was working at New Zealand House and suggest a visit to the grave. It would appear that 2/712 Corporal John Gladstone Burrell, who was also killed in action on 5 October 1916 and was buried in the Serre Road Cemetery, was known to the Delany family. Their association may have gone back to Arrowtown days. Or perhaps Cecil served a draper’s apprenticeship with John’s father.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [05 October 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0033145) [05 October 2016]; CWGC [05 October 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [05 October 2016]; Otago Daily Times, 29 July 1873, 18 & 22 November 1899, 19 October 1916 [x 2], Lake County Press, 12 June 1874, 24 June 1880, 26 October 1916, 3 January 1924, Lake Wakatip Mail, 8 January 1892, Tuapeka Times, 23 December 1893, 19 December 1894 [x 2], New Zealand Tablet, 31 August 1894, 4 January 1895, 16 & 23 July 1897, 22 October 1897, 23 March 1899, 27 July 1899, 12 November 1903, 6 July 1905, 4 & 11 January 1906, 23 January 1908, 31 July 1913, 19 & 26 October 1916, 20 January 1921, Evening Star, 20 September 1915, 31 October 1916, Ashburton Guardian, 20 September 1915, Colonist, 21 September 1915, Manawatu Times, 21 September 1915, Press, 22 September 1915, 19 & 20 October 1916, 1 November 1916, Timaru Herald, 19 October 1916, Mt Benger Mail, 9 January 1924 (Papers Past) [05 & 07 October 2016; 21 February 2018]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [05 October 2016; 20 March 2021]
Researched and Written by
Carol Bell, SC branch NZSG; Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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