Diamond War Memorial Project

Private Daniel O’Kane

4th Canadian Mounted Rifles (2nd Central Ontario Regiment). Regimental Number 201079
Born: ---- Died: 1917-10-26 Aged: -- Enlisted: ------

Name commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Son of John O’Kane, 10, Waterloo Street, Derry.

It is extremely likely that Private Daniel O’Kane died on the first day of the Second Battle of Passchendaele (October 26, to November 10, 1917), which was the final engagement of the Third Battle of Ypres (July 31, to November 10, 1917), and which was spearheaded by the Canadians. A brother of Daniel O’Kane, Private Bernard O’Kane, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was wounded around July 1916, and spent time recovering at a base hospital. In a letter to his parents, at the time, he said he was suffering from a shrapnel wound on the left leg, and had undergone an operation. Private Bernard O’Kane was again wounded around September 1917, and spent time recovering in a Scottish hospital.
Private Daniel O’Kane’s father, John O’Kane (manufacturing confectioner), died on October 22, 1934, and was interred two days later in Derry City Cemetery. On the day of his burial, the Derry Journal published the following glowing tribute to his memory – ‘One of the finest types of that splendid generation of Derrymen who have now nearly all gone to their eternal reward passed away yesterday morning in the person of Mr John O’Kane, of Waterloo Street. John O’Kane represented all that was truest, staunchest, and most unobtrusively sincere in those stalwart men who, on their emergence from the catacombs of the Penal darkness, played each a man’s part in building up the strong position that the Catholic and Nationalist people of the city occupy to-day. He never sought the limelight but by solid work and generous subscription he gave of his best to the Catholic and National cause. Never when the call came was he found wanting. In the stormy days of half a century ago, in the long struggle, not yet finished for civic emancipation, in the great movements of the closing decades of the last century and the first of the present, he was always in his place when he was wanted – trustworthy, reliable and unflinchingly resolute. With his death Catholic and Nationalist Derry has lost a son than whom, in his own sphere, there was none more loyal and true.
‘Like the generation from which he sprung, he was amiable, mild-mannered, kindly, and warm-hearted. A friend once, he was a friend always. His charity was as great as it was hidden, and good deeds marked the whole course of his life. He was fruitful and practical in the practice of his religion as in the profession of his nationality.
‘Fifty years ago he set up as a manufacturing confectioner, and carried on that business right through to his last illness. When the men and women of to-day were children O’Kane’s rock and toffee, and “sweetie balls” were famous. He won a high reputation for the quality of the confectionery he made, and that reputation he honourably maintained. He could many times have got the capital necessary for the extension of his business into a factory on modern lines, but he preferred the old ways and was satisfied with a modest competence.
‘The news of his death will be learned with deep regret. With him goes another of that grand old stock that is so rapidly dwindling. May his soul rest in eternal peace.’