The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Daniel Adair Cormack
Regimental #:
‘A’ Company, No 6 Platoon
Place of Birth:
Grimsby, England
Father's Name:
Thomas J. Cormack Quinn
Mothers's Name:
Ada Corrmack Quinn
Church of England
Pre-war Occupation:
Farmer and Driver
Selarang Camp Changi; River Valley Road Camp; A.G.H. Roberts Barracks Changi (August 1942-January 1943); Selarang Barracks Changi; Changi Gaol Camp;Kranji Hospital Woodlands
Return Details 1945:
Singapore‐Perth-Duke of Gloucester’s aircraft ‘Endeavour'; Soldier was evacuated to 110 (P)MH ex 2/14th Australian General Hospital Singapore

General Description

For WW1 Quinn enlisted Blackboy Hill from Kalgoorlie (he was working miner at Gwalia) with AIF on 26 January 1916, aged 19 years. He served as a sapper with 2nd Tunnelling Coy. Rgt. No. 856. He recorded his mother as his NOK with her address as being Gwalia.
Below:  Quinn’s mother ran a boarding house in Gwalia.  His father Thomas Quinn had been Underground Mine Manager for Sons of Gwalia Mines until he became ill, was forced to resign and died soon after in hospital 1912.


Below:  Dan Quinn’s father Tom died 2 Jan 1912.  It appears Tom Quinn was a highly regarded man in his profession as a underground mine manager – his name often mentioned during enquiries of mining deaths.

Below:  Tom Quinn is ill.







Below:  It is believed Ellen English is mother-in-law to Tom Quinn.

Quinn enlisted Blackboy Hill.  On Quinn’s WW1 enlistment, he records his mother’s surname as Turrin – indicating she remarried about 1916.  He was 20 years and 5 months old, stood 5′ 8″ tall.  His Service No. 856.  He joined No. 2 Mining Company as a Sapper, and spent numerous visits to hospital for various stays until he was returned to Australia.
The 2nd Tunnelling Company had been formed by splitting the original draft of Mining Corps (of battalion plus size) into three Companies, in August 1916. (2nd Tunnelling Coy also included the 5th Tunnelling Coy).

Please read this interesting description of Australian Tunnellers.

He was blown up at Sallon Farm in September 1916, apparently it was an accident, whence he was invalided to England.  He was involved in the mining at Charleroi, Belgium in 1918 and invalided out of the AIF with a tumour on 18th August 1919.
Daniel Quinn, from Gwalia, his name is included 1919 Soldiers Reported Ill List From WW1.


‘In World War 1, the war on the Western Front of Europe was extensively fought underground. A massive network of tunnels was constructed by both sides. They were not only used to provide protection away from surface conflict; deep mines were constructed beneath enemy lines, the shafts filled with explosives and detonated, causing mass fatalities and destruction.
In 1916 the Australian Army secretly formed the Australian Tunnelling Company. 1200 men were initially recruited. They came from coal fields and mining regions across Australia. Their expertise was used decisively in the tunnel war. Their work was classified ‘top secret’ and little was known of their heroic contribution until long after the end of the War.  They were known as the phantom soldiers.
It was initially intended to employ the 1,000 strong Tunnellers Unit with the ANZACs at Gallipoli, but instead it was moved to France in May 1916, where it also appeared as the “Australian Mining Battalion”. Soon after arriving in western Europe in May 1916, the battalion was split into three tunnelling and one repairs company, and the corps headquarters dissolved.
After a fairly short training period with British and Canadian Tunnelling Companies already in France, the Australian Companies were allotted to different Armies and assigned separate areas of responsibility.
The primary tasks of Tunnelling Companies included construction of tunnels and mines for offensive action against the enemy, detection and interruption of the enemy’s counter-mining efforts, and the construction of underground dugouts to accommodate large groups of men, in many cases whole battalions of 1,000 men including Battalion Headquarters.
Many times the Australian and other tunnellers were digging either below or above the German tunnellers.  It was often a matter of creating as little noise, i.e. voices as possible, working quietly and listening for the enemy.  It was also fraught with danger.
Their entire work was classified ‘top secret’ and little was known of their activities until after the war.
Describing their work, David Lees wrote on Engineers Australia, (
“Typically the tunnels were dug by hand in clay using a technique called ‘clay kicking’. The tunnellers lay on a plank at 45 degrees, angled away from the working face, and inserted the digging tool, which had a cuplike rounded end, between their legs with their feet.
Turning the tool manually, a section of soil was silently removed, which was then shovelled into sandbags and passed out of the tunnel through a chain of men.
Any sound could alert the enemy and consequently they would retaliate by raiding and capturing the mine or quietly countermine close by, exploding a charge that would collapse the tunnel killing all those trapped inside. The work was tiring and tense because the tunnellers rarely knew whether the other side were aware of their presence until it was too late.
Any available excavating machinery proved difficult to transport and assemble under bombardment, and was unable to operate effectively in the gluey clay conditions and would have been much too noisy.” (Read more (
The Australian Tunnellers are famous for their achievement particularly at the Battle of Messines Ridge in 1917. They were tasked with the preparation of tunnels and explosives beneath Hill 60 over seven months, working with the constant danger of collapse and of detection by the enemy.’
This has been copied from the Mining and Energy Union website.  We wish to acknowledge and thank them for this information.
The Australian film Beneath Hill 60 tells the story of the battle. Watch the trailer here: ( You can rent the film from iTunes or Google play.

Further reading:

National ( ( )

Below:  Ada Quinn welcomes her son Dan home July 1919.





Daniel married about 1920 to Lillian ‘Elizabeth’ Weston.

The couple went farming at Yandanooka.  They were recorded in the 1931 Electoral Roll.
Below: Daniel purchases a Rugby six vehicle and his is farming at Yandaooka.

Below:  It is quite possible Quinn acquired the Yandanooka property through his War Service.  Unknowingly, WA was  then heading into a Depression and farming would have been very challenging.

Prior to enrolling Daniel Quinn was residing North Perth and working as a labourer.







Above:  Quinn’s mother died in March 1934. Ada and Thomas Quinn last moved from South Australia.  However we know Tom Quinn had family connections in New Zealand.
Prior to enlisting WW2 Quinn was recorded residing 52 Stirling Street, Perth.
Quinn enlisted AIF 23 July 1940, he would have been about 45 years old then and later joined 2/4th’s ‘A’ Company 6 Platoon under CO Lt Morrison as a Cook (he provided incorrect year of birth to be included in the age group)


Quinn remained Singapore throughout the war and was evacuated from 2/14th AGH, Singapore on Duke of Gloucester’s aircraft ‘Endeavour’ to Guildford.  From here he was evacuated to Hollywood Hospital.


After the war Daniel and ‘Elizabeth’ Quinn in 1954 residing Cambridge Street, Leederville  and 1958 Electoral Roll are living 46 Ruby Street, North Perth, Daniel working as storeman.
1963 they are living 148 Peninsula Road, Maylands with Daniel worked as a Storeman.
In 1977 Daniel is residing 5 Hadley St, Safety Bay without ‘Elizabeth’ and with Donald Adair Quinn (possibly Daniel’s son) and Ruby Caroline Francis Quinn.
Lillian Elizabeth Quinn died 26 November 1970.
Daniel Quinn died 8 Nov 1979 aged 73 years.  He had served his country well enlisting both WW1 and WW2.  He was a tunneller in WW1 – a dangerous job and POW of the Japanese in WW2. 

Camp Locations:

  • Changi Gaol Camp - Singapore
  • Kranji Camp Woodlands - Singapore
  • River Valley Road Camp - Singapore
  • Roberts Barracks Changi - Singapore
  • Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
  • Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore