The Surrogate Brother

Frank Danielson was living in Montreal when he enlisted with the Black Watch on May 13, 1944.  He was 21 and working as a labourer at the time. 42127_83024005506_0622-00315 copy.jpgFrank was one of seven children born to a Swedish father and an English mother and he had three younger brothers, William (20), Herbert (16), and Donald (13). William Danielson was also in the Service and was overseas. Frank’s training record describes him as an “average soldier – cheerful lad – tries hard but just a little slow”.

Frank was taken on service with the Black Watch on March 1, 1945, when the battalion was in the area of the Hockwald Forest in Germany. On March 9 the battalion was outside of Xanten where the 5 Brigade had the objective of capturing the high ground. As the Black Watch moved into position they were involved in a “short, sharp fight, of from 5 to 10 minutes duration”. Frank Danielson was killed in this action, after only eight days with the battalion.

While this story seems tragic enough it takes a very unexpected turn. Frank Danielson was indeed conscripted in 1944 but it was his younger brother, Herbert, who showed up in his place using Frank’s name and birthdate. Herbert was 16 at the time. At some now unknown point the army became suspicious of ‘Frank’ Danielson and on February 21, 1945, orders were sent out to have him retained “on Base” until his age could be verified. The message was too late, however, and he had moved on. A second request was also too late as he had already joined the Black Watch in Germany. The final message to have ‘Frank’ Danielson retained on base was sent to the the regiment on March 10, 1945, one day after he was killed. Herbert Danielson was 17. Frank Danielson was still at home in Montreal.

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