Frank Davies was the son of John & Mary Davies of Ewloe.
In 1881 the family was living in Reynold’s Houses in Hawarden. Head of the household, John Davies was a 35 year old labourer in the Ironworks. His wife Mary was 32. Their listed children then were William 11, John 9, Elizabeth 7, Walter 5 and Frank 2.
In 1891 the family lived in Ewloe. John Davies 45 was a Coalminer. Mary was 41. The children listed in the household were John 19 Walter 14, Frank 11, Jessie 8, Samuel 6, Hedley 4 and Thomas 1. In December of 1891, after the census, Charles Davies was born.
(Charles Davies lost his life in WW1 and has his own page on this website. Follow the link)
(Hedley Davies lost his life and has his own page on this website. Follow the link).
Also Frank’s cousin Edward John Wainwright who also died, please click on the link to read his story.
By 1901 tragedy had struck, as the mother to this family, Mary had died. The father John, 51 and his youngest son Charles, were living with Hedley’s sister Elizabeth Wainwright, 26, and her husband Thomas, 28 and a Coal Miner (Hewer) and their 3 children in Ewloe, Flintshire. One of these children was Edward John Wainwright.
In the census of 1901 census, Frank Davies was a Boarder, Single, age 22, a Coal Hewer, born Hawarden, who spoke only English was recorded at 6, Colliers Road, Stansty, Wrexham, in the household of Thomas Pritchard 52, his wife Annie, 53, and his extended family. Frank married Edith Ann Hughes in the September quarter of 1901 at Wrexham. (She was the daughter of Licensed Victualler Robert S Parry)
The 1911 census records Frank and Edith living at 18, Railway Terrace, Gwersyllt, Nr. Wrexham (4 rooms), Frank, 31 was a Collier (Hewer) who had been born in Hawarden. His wife of 10 years, Edith A was 30. She had given birth to 4 children all of whom were still living. Their children were Elizabeth, 8 (born in Rhosddu, Denbighshire), John Thos. was 7, Frank (Jnr) 4 and Lucy 1 had all been born in Gwersyllt. Frank’s father John, 69, then a widower and Gardener, who had been born in Kinnerton, Flintshire was in the household.
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. Their eldest daughter 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.
A description of Frank on enlistment states that he was 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighed 165 lbs. His chest Measurement was 40 and 1/2 inches with an expansion range of 2 and 1/2 inches. His complexion was Fresh, his eyes hazel and his hair brown.
He had a scar on the inner side of right buttock and another scar at back of head, right side.
Frank’s religion was C of E
On 6th November 1914 Frank was discharged “not likely to become an efficient Soldier”. He had served just 75 days. So what went wrong?
I was curious about Frank’s short service so I asked the Army Forum.
I had a reply from Ken
“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”
Then Ken added
“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.”
Frank’s death certificate, apologies for the poor quality, please contact the website for a copy. He died of TB of the spine on the 14th March 1917. Another member (Harry Brook) of the Army Forum sent me a copy of his burial in the Gwersyllt Parish Registers. Page 23, No. 177 Frank Davies, 18, Railway Terrace, Gwersyllt, 19th March, 36 years, E. Hughes, Curate.
I 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.”
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. His regimental number is the one before Frank’s. 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.
Frank is remembered on the Gwersyllt memorial.