Davies, William Henry

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William Henry Davies

G/19867, Private, 10th Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
Killed in action, 23 March 1918, aged 22
No known grave (Arras Memorial, France)

CWGC registered (no family details)

William Henry Davies is not remembered on the Llandudno memorials but he is commemorated on a family stone in St. Tudno’s Churchyard which reads: 

In loving memory of … William Henry,
beloved son of the above (William &
Catherine Davies, Bodafon Farm,
Llandudno), 21st Lancers, reported missing
at Benginy, Aichet-le-Grand, France,
March 23rd, 1918, aged 22 years. 

William Davies was born, lived and schooled in Llandudno and his omission from the Llandudno memorials is a mystery.

William Henry Davies was born at Llandudno in on 5 March 1896, the son of William Davies and Catherine Davies (née Owen). The Census of Wales for 1901 records the family living at “Ryeford”, Carlton Street, Llandudno; William (senior) was a road constructor. William attended Lloyd Street School and in September 1907 he was transferred to John Bright County School. In 1911, the family lived at “Bryn y Mynan”, Glan Conway and William (senior) was described as a farmer; William’s (junior-15) occupation was not given.

William Henry Davies attested on 28 December 1915 at Llandudno, probably under the Derby Scheme, the last gasp of volunteering before conscription was introduced the following year. He gave his occupation as a farmer. However, unlike many who did volunteer at this time, he was not put onto the reserve awaiting call-up but volunteered to join the army straightaway. His attestation was approved on 3 January 1916 at Waterford in Ireland, being appointed to the Lancers of the Line. The following day he was posted to the 7th Reserve Cavalry Regiment. On 15 June 1916, William was posted to No 1 Service Squadron of the 21st Lancers (Empress of India’s) – his service number was 4978. This regiment was based in India but a service squadron affiliated to it was formed in 1916 becoming a squadron of the XIV Corps Cavalry Regiment in France. William served with the Lancers in France from June 1916 but in August 1917, his squadron was disbanded and its troops were absorbed into existing infantry battalions – William Davies was transferred the 10th (Service) Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment on 14 September 1917 with a new regimental number of G/19867. On 23 November 1917, William Henry Davies reported sick with inflammation of the connective tissue in his feet. He was moved by the 139th Field Ambulance to the 41st Divisional Rest Station.

On 21 March 1918, the Germans began Operation Michael, attacking in strength between Arras and St. Quentin. The 10th RWK, in GHQ Reserve, was ordered to proceed to Aichet le Grand. The following day, the battalion moved forward to Fremicourt and that night, it moved forward to relieve units in the front line immediately west of Morchies. At about noon on 23 March, the battalion with a fighting strength of 580 other ranks, was attacked by an estimated 700 Germans. In the ensuing battle, 14 other ranks were killed, 31 were wounded, 15 were wounded & missing and 391 were missing. William Henry Davies was amongst the missing. William’s father made enquiries to the Red Cross to determine if his son was a prisoner of war but without success. William’s death was assumed for official purposes as 23 March 1918. He was aged 22.

A memorandum in William Davies’ record dated 1919 indicates that his father then had two addresses, “Bodafon Farm”, Llandudno and “Ryeford”, Carlton Street (where the family resided in 1901). It is extremely curious that William Henry Davies does not appear on any of the Llandudno memorials, the Llanrhos Memorial or the Glan Conwy Memorial. He is not remembered on the Ysgol John Bright Roll of Honour – perhaps he left early.

Another curiosity is that his medal index card indicates that his medals were returned.

Known memorials:

  • Arras Memorial
  • Parents’ headstone, St. Tudno’s Churchyard

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