Hugh Howel Davies was born in Bethesda, Caernarfonshire during 1881.
The 1891 Census shows that the family lived at 40 Ernest Street, Rhyl, Flintshire. The head of the family was David Davies aged 43, who was a Carpenter. His wife Margaret Davies and their five (5) children – David Davies aged 14, Robert Davies aged 12, Hugh Howell Davies aged 10, Margaret Davies aged 7 and Griffiths Davies aged 5 years.
During August 1914, Hugh enlisted with 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at the Drill Hall, Rhyl, Flintshire.
He was embodied on the 1st April 1915.
Joined battalion 4th April 1915.
Missing on the 16th May 1915 presumed to have died on or since that day.
The events of the day on which Hugh Howell Davies died are as follows:-
The unit mustered 25 Officers and 806 men in the trenches that morning. Following a half-hour bombardment the unit attacked just after it ended at 3.16am, going over the top in successive order of 4 companies, 2 waves of men per company. Their aim (within the larger battle) was to take 2 lines of enemy trenches then hold a defensive position. It met heavy shell and machine-gun fire even as it left the trenches and tried to cross No Mans Land. They got beyond the two enemy lines but came under fire from their left, and part of the Battalion (A & part of B companies) was mixed up with the 2nd Scots Guards on that flank. The rear two companies (C & D) also suffered badly in crossing to the German lines. As some men pressed on further they were hit by ‘friendly’ shellfire and halted.
By 1pm contact was made with the Royal Warwicks Regiment on the right and the Queen’s Regiment came up in support. The Battalion found itself holding an exposed position facing an orchard, open to enemy sniping from front and rear. At 2pm the enemy began shelling the trench they were in, which offered little cover. Reinforcements from the 7th London Regiment came up and attacked the orchard covered by fire from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but had to fall back under machine-gun fire. He shelling meantime wrecked the trench and cut the Royal Welsh Fusiliers off from other units. Darkness was approaching as the Royal Welsh Fusiliers fell back to a line being held just in front of the former Second German Line, then were ordered to withdraw to trenches being held by The Queen’s, which they accomplished successfully.
The Royal Welsh Fusiliers claimed to have penetrated the enemy defences to a depth of 1200 yards. For this they paid a heavy price: Officers – 6 killed, 2 died of wounds, 9 wounded, 1 wounded and missing, 1 missing. Total 19 out of 25. Other Ranks – 118 killed, 271 wounded, 164 missing (many of whom would prove to be dead), 6 wounded and missing. Total 559 out of 806. Some 110 bodies were retrieved and buried in the old No Mans Land on 18 May, in addition to various officers brought in the previous evening.
On 26 May 1916 a payment of £3.14s.6d was made by the War Office to Mrs Margaret Davies, this being monies owed to her son Hugh. On 3 January 1920, a further payment which is recorded as a War Gratuity of £3.0s.0d was also made to her.
Hugh is also remembered on a Remembrance plaque at The Royal Alexandra Hospital, Marine Drive, Rhyl, Flintshire and The North Wales Heroes Memorial Arch, Deiniol Road, Bangor, North Wales.
There is a Flintshire Roll of Honour Card for him at the County Archives Office, Hawarden, which is dated 15 September 1919.