Charles Davies was the adopted son of William Davies and Elizabeth Hill of Nant Mawr.
Charles died in Russia in March 1920, 16 months after the Armistice on the Western Front. He is commemorated at the Churkin Russian Naval Cemetery near Vladivostok and at Bistre Church. He is the only soldier on the Buckley Memorial known to have died in Russia although Henry Thomas Astbury from Penymynydd who is on the Hawarden Memorial died at Murmansk in 1919. Charles died over 5,000 miles from home.
Charles is remembered on the family grave at Bistre. From the inscription we know that he was the adopted son of William Davies and Elizabeth Hill of Nant Mawr. His adopted mother was the daughter of Charles Hill of Nant Mawr. His adopted father was William Davies of Nant Mawr, son of John Davies and Mary [nee Rowlands], carpenter and joiner of Padeswood/Bannel/Penymynydd. Charles is found with the family in the 1911 census but not in 1901 suggesting he was adopted between those dates. Further information on the circumstances of the adoption has not been found. We have not found a Charles in birth records or the 1901 census who fits.
William and Elizabeth Davies of “Old Bank”, Nant Mawr were buried at Emmanuel Church, Bistre, in 1926 and 1914 respectively. Their daughter Mary (b.1884) married James West. She died at Ealing, West London in 1951 and was buried at Bistre. We have not found what happened to two other daughters, Elizabeth Ann (b.1888) and Nellie (b.1891).
There are few surviving military records for Charles. From his medal card we can see that he first joined 1/4th Btn. Somerset Light Infantry. From his service number he probably joined in May 1917. At that time of the war, Charles would have been conscripted when he turned 18 which suggests his birth in about May 1899. This would mean he would have been 20 when he died but the grave at Bistre shows that he was 22. The Army kept young conscripts long after the war to help release adult men who had served longer, and Charles was most likely transferred to the Hampshire Regiment for post-war service.
British and Canadian forces were in Siberia in 1918 and 1919 to support a White Russian (anti-Bolshevik) government. The 1/9th (Cyclist) Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, spent much of the war in India but 32 officers and 945 other ranks, with the commanding officer Lt Col Robert Johnson were sent as reinforcements for the British in Russia, arriving in Vladivostok on the 28th November 1918. They then left for Omsk in the middle of Siberia to relieve the 25th Middlesex. The journey of over 4,000 miles to Omsk in cattle trucks which had been roofed in and given a stove took 23 days, arriving on the 7th January 1919. The Battalion stayed in Omsk all winter, with temperatures reaching 50⁰ centigrade at times. The Battalion was ordered to move to Ekaterinburg in the Urals, where it was essential in the formation of the Anglo-Russian Brigade, commanded by British officers but made up of Russian peasants. Finally, the 1/9th were withdrawn from Ekaterinburg early in August 1919. Orders were received that they were to go to Vladivostok and from there would be transported home. The Battalion arrived back in Southampton December 5th 1919 via Canada. In all, the Hampshire’s suffered a 6400-mile voyage from Bombay to Vladivostok on a ship ravaged with influenza (several men died), and then about 9100 miles to and fro across Siberia.
Churkin Russian Naval Cemetery includes the graves of 14 soldiers from Canada and 14 from Britain. The Vladivostok Memorial inscribes the names of 19 from Britain and 3 from Canada who died elsewhere in Siberia. All except Charles Davies died in 1918 or 1919, and it appears that Charles died 4 months after his battalion left for home. The CWGC history indicates that an American hospital was evacuated in March 1920, the same month that Charles died. One can only assume that he was wounded or ill and unable to travel when the British left.
Another Charles Davies is remembered on the Hawarden Memorial.