Joseph Davies was born during 1888 in Llanrhaeadr, Denbighshire.
The 1901 Census shows that the family lived at 5 Rhuddlan Road, Abergele, Denbighshire. The head of the family was Walter Davies aged 39, who was employed as a Brick Layer. His wife Alice Davies aged 37 and their seven (7) children – Walter Davies aged 15, who was employed as a Gentleman’s Errand Boy, Joseph Davies aged 13, Charles Davies aged 11, Margaret Elizabeth Davies aged 7, Eliza Emma Davies aged 5 and Sophia Davies aged 1 year.
The 1911 Census tells us that the family were still living in 5 Rhuddlan Road, Abergele, Denbighsire with three additional children – Robert Davies aged 9, William Edward Davies aged 6 and Ivor Davies aged 3 years.
There was one other son, who has not been mentioned, Isaac Morris Davies, a Professional Soldier, who was serving at that time in India.
Joseph Davies, a former soldier was called up from the reserve when war broke out. He arrived in France on Wednesday 11 December 1914 as a 1st Battalion reinforcement and was followed soon after by three of his brothers – Walter Davies, Charles Davies and John Davies.
The account of the events of the day on which Joseph died at the Battle of Festubert 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.
Charles and John Davies both became Prisoners of War. Charles was captured on Monday 25 March 1918 and he was repatriated on Monday 2 December 1918. Private 11134 John Davies was captured by the Germans near Ypres in October 1914. In 1915 he sent a postcard home with the message ‘Still Alive’, on being held at Friedricksfeld Camp, Wisel, Gemany. On Wednesday 17 January 1917 an article appeared in the Daily Mail Newspaper headed ‘Daring Escape by Three Soldiers’. In December 1916 John Davies along with two other soldiers escaped from Crefeld Prisoner of War Camp, Germany and made it home to the British Lines. To commemorate his daring deed his framed photograph was hung in the Abergele Council Chamber. Walter Davies survived the war.
On 24 November 1915 a payment of £13.15s.9d was made by the War Office to Walter Davies, this being monies owed to his son Joseph. On 14 August 1919, a further payment which is recorded as a War Gratuity of £5.0s.0d was also made to him.
There is no Flintshire Roll of Honour Card for Joseph Davies at the County Archives Office, Hawarden.
He is also commemorated on the Abergele War Memorial and the Abergele Town War Memorial.