Frank Davies, born circa 1884, is the brother of two soldiers and the cousin of 1 soldier who died in WW1, Hedley Davies and Charles Davies who are remembered on the Hawarden War Memorial, please click on the links to read their stories. Also Frank’s cousin Edward John Wainwright who also died, please click on the link to read his story.
Frank’s family history is the same as Hedley’s, until the 1901 census, when, I believe, a Frank DAVIES was a Boarder, Single, age 22, a Coal Hewer, born Hawarden, who spoke only English is seen living at 6, Colliers Road, Stansty, Wrexham, in the household of Thomas PRITCHARD, 52, his wife Annie, 53, and his extended family.
That same census shows an Edith Hughes living at 25, Hope St., Wrexham Regis, In the household of Robert S. PARRY, 34 Licensed Victualler and his wife Annie, 34. There were 2 other servants as well as Edith HUGHES, 20 a Barmaid, born Gwrsyllt, spoke only English.
I also believe that Frank was to marry Edith Ann Hughes in the September quarter of 1901 at Wrexham (Vol. 11b, Page 381).
The 1911 census shows Frank and Edith living at 18, Railway Terrace, Gwersyllt, Nr. Wrexham (4 rooms), Frank, 31 was a Collier (Hewer) and states he was born in Hawarden, as on other censuses. Edith A., 30, states that they had been married 10 years, 4 children had been born, all still living and she had been born in Gwersyllt. Their children were Elizabeth, 8 was born in Rhosddu, Denbighshire. The other children, John Thos., 7, Frank (Junr.), 4 and daughter Lucy, 1 had all been born in Gwersyllt. Frank’s father John, 69, now a widower and Gardener, who had been born in Kinnerton, Flintshire was in the household.
Frank Davies in the British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920 tells us that Frank enlisted in 1914, his birthplace was Hawarden, he had married at Gwersyllt on the 8th July 1901 and his age then was 30.
Between 1911 and 1914, according to his Pension Records, more children had been born to Frank and Edith, a son Walter and a daughter Edith Mary. Elizabeth, by this time was too old to be mentioned in his Pension Records, I presume.
Frank’s Attestation Papers, signed on the 24th August 1914 at Wrexham, tell us more, he had been a Coal Miner, he was exactly 30 years old when he enlisted. He had previously been in the Territorial Force, 5th Bn. R.W.F., but was discharged, – Time expired.
The next Paper – 12156 Frank DAVIES – Depot D Attested Pte 24th August 1914 – 8th R.W.F. Discharged not likely to become an efficient Soldier. 6th November 1914 – 75 days.
There is a Description of Frank -Height – 5 feet 7 inches
Weight – 165 lbs
Chest Measurement – 40 and 1/2 inches, range of expansion 2 and 1/2 inches.
Complexion – Fresh
Eyes – Hazel
Hair – Brown
Church of England? – Yes.
Distinctive marks etc. – Scar inner side of right buttock.
Scar at back of head, right side.
Dated 23rd August 1914
I was curious about Frank’s short service so I asked the Army Forum on http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=229815#entry2285227
I was able to find out that when Frank was sent for training, thanks to “kenf48” on the Army Forum who sent this, below, and he could very well have been among the troops who were sent to this camp: –
“In the absence of a diagnosis in the surviving records or a death certificate TB is a possibility but without evidence as speculative as any other infectious disease.
What is indisputable is that the ’40th Infantry Brigade’ (8th RWF; 4th SWB;8th Welsh) encountered ‘many difficulties” and suffered shortages of blankets and clothing when they were posted to Parkhouse Camp.
Their CO appealed for ‘winter comforts’ but men were admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia and with twenty two men to a tent infection would breed and spread. For all we know he never recovered from the experience. The brigade moved to Draycott Camp and huts (from where he was discharged) in October.
Edit: Just had a look at Atkinson who has a vivid description of the 4th SWB and the conditions they faced after moving from Parkhouse Camp ‘quite pleasant in September’ to Chiseldon in October where their new camp was badly sited ‘on low lying ground which heavy rain turned to marsh’. The tents flooded and one storm flattened all the tents and turned the fields into a lake. The huts were also flooded. The men had only one service dress and no dry clothes. Atkinson notes, ‘What with the bad weather and the strenuousness of the training the strain on the men was severe and their health suffered in consequence. Septic throats were prevalent, with rheumatism and chills.’ No doubt the RWF suffered the same privations and sickness.
In the absence of a diagnosis in the surviving records or a death certificate TB is a possibility but without evidence as speculative as any other infectious disease.”
I also wrote to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and part of their reply was: –
“His date of death (14/03/1917) falls within our jurisdiction and, presumably, his death occurred as a result of injuries or sickness sustained whilst he was in service, therefore on these grounds, it was decided that the Commission would commemorate him.”
This, in my mind confirms what “kenf48” had told me earlier.
Frank’s death certificate, apologies for the poor quality, please contact the website for a copy.
What we do know is that Frank died in 1917, even though he had been discharged in November 1914 and his death is recorded in the March Quarter of 1917 (Wrexham Vol. 11b, Page 435).
Another member (Harry Brook) of the Army Forum (above) sent me a copy of his burial in the Gwersyllt Parish Registers. I have transcribed it here:- Page 23, No. 177 Frank DAVIES, 18, Railway Terrace, Gwersyllt, 19th March, 36 years, E. HUGHES, Curate.
So although Frank is not remembered on the Hawarden Memorial, I do believe that he should be remembered here as this is the Village he was born. He is however remembered on the Gwersyllt War Memorial, and as things were after the war, there was no Army Roll of the men who had fallen, it was left up to family and friends to put their names forward, usually to the Vicar of the Parish. In any case it shows how many men suffered before they got to the front, and Frank must have suffered for many years for when I asked the Registrar what he died of to complete his story, and she kindly told me that Frank’s death was attributed to “TB of the Spine”. His stay at the camp may have triggered it.
Interestingly Pte W. DOOLEY, 12155* 8th Bn R.W.F. is buried in the same churchyard as Frank, he died 21st November 1914.
*The regimental number before Frank, was he in the same camp?
Many thanks to the members of the Army Forum and everyone else, not mentioned, who helped me tell Frank’s story.