Spr Daniel Thomas Chisholm, No 1 Drilling Coy

Ancona Cemetery, Italy

Daniel was born in Springhill, Nova Scotia, the son of Daniel and Annie Chisholm. He was a coal miner and carpenter working for the Dominion Steel & Coal Company in Springhill when he enlisted in January 1940.  Earlier, he had served for four years (1929-33) in the Cumberland Highlanders, a Militia unit later merged into the North Nova Scotia Highlanders. He was assigned to the Royal Canadian Engineers and after basic training, qualified as Carpenters Helper, Group “C” in April 1940. After arriving in a holding unit in the UK. He was sent to the 4th Battalion, RCE in March 1942 before being sent to the Special Tunnelling Detachment “B” as a Miners Helper Group “C”.  Later, in October, Daniel was put to work as a miner in Scotland with No. 1 Tunnelling Company in a hydroelectric project using the unique Canadian drilling skills not processed by British tunnellers.

No. 1 Tunnelling Company arrived in Italy He arrived in Italy in January 1944 and was renamed No. 1 Drilling Company in March 1944.  In the early days, the company was tasked with building underground bunkers for both British and American HQ locations, an observation post overlooking Cassino for the Royal Air Force, and smaller but necessary tasks during the advance to Rome through the Liri Valley.  In June 1944, the company started experimenting with driving pipe piles in support of South African engineers building a Bailey Bridge over the Tiber. Later they moved to Tuscany and help restore waterworks in Siena and Florence.  Daniel qualified as Miner Group “B” in August of that year just as the 1st Canadian Corps was secretly moving to the Adriatic coast in preparation for the Gothic Line attack.

When the advance to the Metauro River began on 25 August, the unit was busy pipe-piling for bridges on the advance routes; one across the Esino River at Iesi and another across the mouth of the Cesano River just south of the Metauro.  The next would be across the Metauro itself.  It was here on 30 August 1944 that Daniel was involved in a fatal accident. His section was placing pipe piles for a low-level Bailey bridge across the Metauro.  He was standing at the front of a pipe drilling machine when a a second extension attached to the pipe suddenly and unexpectedly buckled, bent and struck Sapper Chisholm from behind.  He later died of his injuries at 2 Polish Field Ambulance. He is buried in the Ancona Commonwealth Cemetery. He was 31 years old.

Return to the main tributes page