Daniel Heenan

Corporal 13039183

Pioneer Corps

Died 21 November 1945 

 

Daniel Heenan was working as a tailor's presser in Leeds, Yorkshire, when war with Germany was declared in 1939.

Aged 34, he was a widower, his wife Margaret (nee Wake) having died two years later.

The couple had married in 1928 in the Bramley district of Yorkshire. Their first child James was born in 1929, followed by two daughters: Margaret in 1930 and Mary Valerie in July 1936. 

In 1930, the couple are recorded on the electoral register for 24 Chandos Street, Holbeck, Leeds. 

A Family Separated

When Margaret died at the age of 30, Daniel was left with three young children to raise. James was eight years old, Margaret, seven and Mary was a baby of just six months.

Mary went to live with her maternal grandparents Thomas Wake and Catherine at 94 Woolwick Street.

What happened to the other two children is unclear. Daniel continued to live at 24 Chandos Street but the children are not living with him at the time of the 1939 National Register.

There is no record of their deaths.

My theory is that they went to live with another member of the family, Daniel finding it too difficult to work and look after two young children.

One clue to their future home lies in the Probate Record for Daniel's estate which was granted in 11 Nov 1947 in the London Registry. Administration of his affairs is granted to Alice Hewitt (wife of Sydney Hewitt) and Catherine Wake, widow. 

Catherine I believe is Daniel's mother in law.

Alice and Sydney Hewitt are living  at 13 Altofts Terrace in Leeds at the time of the 1939 National Register. There is another occupant, Sydney Heenan Hewitt who is a tailor's fitter.  There are also two closed records, indicating occupants who were children at the time. 

The birth of a Sydney Heenan Hewitt was registered in Holbeck registration district, in 1918, with the mother's maiden name recorded as Heenan. Sydney died at sea while serving as an Able Bodied Seaman in the Royal Navy in 1942, the memorial record of his death confirms that his parents were Sydney and Alice Hewitt. 

Alice Hewitt (nee Heenan) is clearly a relative of Daniel Heenan . According to the 1939 National Register she was born on 28 Oct 1891. There is an Alice Heenan whose birth was recorded in  the first quarter of 1892 in Newcastle. The mother’s name is recorded as Keenan. 

There is a Daniel Heenan whose birth was registered in the second quarter of 1907 in the Newcastle registration district. The mother’s name is recorded as Keenan. The date of birth matches the date of birth of 29 May 1907 given in the National Register entry for Daniel Heenan. 

The fact both births are to a mother with a maiden name Heenan would suggest Daniel and Alice were brother and sister. But this is speculation at this stage and without a copy of the birth certificate I cannot be certain this is the case.

I'm further speculating that the two closed records of individuals living with Alice and Sidney Heenan are Daniel's two eldest children James and Margaret.

When their father died they would have been aged 16 and 15

Daniel Heenan in World War 2

There is scant information available about Daniel Heenan's military service because the records are not publicly available.

All we can glean is that he was in the Pioneer Corps. This was a combatant corps within the British Army that performed a variety of tasks. In addition to combat, they laid prefabricated track on beaches, and effected various logistical operations such as construction bridges and airfields. The breadth of their activities make it difficult, to determine where Daniel was at the time of his death and in what operations he was involved.

The war was over by November 1945. Victory in Europe had been declared in  May and Japan had surrendered in July. 

It may be that Daniel was involved in reconstruction operations and killed accidentally or he may have succumbed to pneumonia. All of this is speculation. We don't even know whether he was overseas at the time.

What we do know is that he was buried at Killingbeck Roman Catholic Cemetery in Leeds.  The inscription on the headstone reads:  “In the region of peace and light”.

Can You Help?

If you have any information about Daniel or his family, do let me know. You'll find a link to a contact form here