Daniel Marcus Beak was born at 41 Kent Road, St Denys, in 1891 and baptized at St Denys Church. He attended St Denys School and then Taunton's School. During World War One he was awarded the Military Cross in 1917, the Distinguished Service Order in January 1918 and the Victoria Cross in August 1918. His VC was awarded for “conspicuous bravery, courageous leadership and devotion to duty during a prolonged period of operations”.
After the war in 1919 he was awarded the Freedom of Southampton at a ceremony in the Empire Theatre (now the Mayflower). Thousands of people lined the streets to see him, with various organisations also represented. Shops closed for the afternoon and schools were given a half-holiday. Beak is seen in the photograph with the mayor of Southampton, Sidney Kimber.
Later Beak re-joined the army and served in North Africa during World War Two. He retired with the rank of major-general in 1945, and died at Swindon in 1967.
Newspaper clippings (online or available at the Local Studies Library):
- Beak house was home to national hero - (Southern Daily Echo, date unknown). Describes Beak's life briefly, gives the citation for his medals and describes the local scenes when he was given the Freedom of the Borough.
- Tribute to General Beak - (Southern Daily Echo, 09/05/1967). Letter from Brian Sager, who talks in some detail about his contact with Beak during the Second World War and difficulties with Beak's final active command role, in Operation Pugilist. He also says that Beak was unpopular for withdrawing the midday cup of tea, saying "no soldier needs a cup of tea in the middle of the day". Sager admires Beak's command abilities and his moral courage.
- Major-General Beak, V.C. - (Southern Daily Echo, 10/01/1942)
Familiar and Forgotten, by Southampton Art Gallery. (HS/t)
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