No.2 Tunnelling Depot. Royal Engineers
William Davis was the son of George William and Elizabeth Davis, of 33 Albany Road, Reading. His grave is a registered war grave with a private memorial, his parents are buried with him. Grave number 16223. The story of William Davis is tragic and mysterious. The details of the inquest were published in the Chronicle 26th May 1916.
“After one day a Clipstone Camp Nottinghamshire William Davis, aged 25, disappeared and his body was found in the River Mann – a shallow stream near Mansfield. He had reported to camp on Saturday May 6th and was not seen after dinner on Sunday.
Giving evidence, James Davis* his brother said deceased had orders to report May 7th and was put in the Royal Engineers. This was against his wish, he wanted the Royal Flying corps. He had no liking for the Army and had appealed twice on business grounds but was refused. When the appeal was refused he seemed to settle down and accept the position.
William Davis made the acquaintance of Benjamin Charles Everest, Royal Engineers, at Clipstone camp but did not appear very cheerful, he was quiet and reserved.
James Davis said he felt that his brother would not take his own life, would in fact be the last man to do so.
The body was found embedded in mud – verdict “Found drowned.”
It is not clear exactly when William Davis died, the inscription on the grave states:
Laid to Rest May 23rd 1916”
George William Davis
237th Field Company Royal Engineers
George William Davis was the brother of William Davis. He is commemorated on the headstone of his brothers grave. George Davis was the husband of D.L. Mealings (formerly Davis), of Station House, Burghdere. He was killed in action 7th October 1916 and is buried in the A.I.F. Burial Ground, near Flers, the Somme. Location IV.A.25.
The “In Memoriam“ entry in the Standard 21st October 1916, is from his wife and gives some details of the action he was in at the time he was killed:
“Davis- G.W. – In loving memory of my dear husband, Corporal. G. W. Davis, who fell in action October 7th 1916, helping to lead a party of men to No Mans Land for defence work north of Gueudecourt”.
It was over the battle field in this area that the first tank battle had taken place on the 15th September 1916. The bitter fighting of the last phase of the Somme battle lasted until November 1916.
For William and Elizabeth Davis, as for many parents, 1916 was a year of tragedy. In their “In Memoriam” is a poem about their eldest son.
He is gone, our dearly loved youth,
The heart of honour, the tongue of truth;
He, the life and light of us all,
Whose voice was blithe as a bugle call;
Whom all eyes followed with one consent,
The cheer of whose laugh, and whose pleasant word
Hushed all murmurs of discontent.
I has not been possible to find any information about James Davis