Davies, John Robert

Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Keith Redfern Humphreys

Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Ysceifiog

Name / Enw: Davies, John Robert

Regiment/Catrawd: 5th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment

Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Rifleman 2974

Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: St. Mary's Churchyard, Ysceifiog.

Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: N/A

Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: Wales

Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:

Robert John Davies died of his wounds at the East Suffolk Hospital, Ipswich, on 4th July, 1915, following his evacuation from the first battle of Ypres at the Somme. He was 23 years old and had volunteered for the South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales Volunteers). He joined the 5th battalion and it had just started its annual training when war broke out in August, 1914. It was initially sent for training to Edinburgh and later to Tunbridge Wells. In February, 1915, it was ordered to France sailing on 13th aboard the SS King Edward and arriving at Le Havre the same day. Over the next few days the battalion marched to La Bizet and undertook instruction in trench warfare. The battalion was moved around regularly until 28th April when it was moved to Belgium in readiness to partake in the first battle of Ypres which had started on 22nd. On 2nd May the Germans launched an attack accompanied by a cloud of chlorine gas and the battalion was moved into the line for the first time. On 3rd May it was moved into the new line in front of Wieltje and then moved on again to Shell Trap farm. At dawn they engaged the Germans but by 4pm the enemy was within 400 yards of the British lines from where they began a heavy bombardment of the British. More shellfire continued through the next day culminating in heavy concentrated fire at 5pm which resulted in a considerable number of men being buried and either killed or wounded. The enemy fire continued until midnight and four attempts were made by the Germans to take the farm but all were repulsed. At 2am on 6th the battalion was relieved and moved having suffered considerable casualties. On 8th May the battalion was again moved to the Wieltje sector as it was thought the enemy had broken through but this turned out to be a false alarm. It remained nearby until 13th before being moved back from the battle.

It is almost certain that John suffered either as a result of gas attack or the subsequent artillery bombardment. He was repatriated to the hospital in Ipswich but ultimately succumbed to his wounds. He is buried in the church yard at Ysceifiog.

Headstone for Rifleman John Robert Davies of Llyn Du, Babell.

John was the son of William and Sarah Davies of Llyn Du, Babell, Flintshire. The family had strong links with St. Helens in Lancashire.