b. 16/03/1886 Ogmore Vale, Wales. d. 31/07/1917 Pilckem, Belgium.
James Llewellyn Davies (1886-1917) was born at 14 Lethbridge Terrace, Victoria, Ebbw Vale, Glamorgan on 16th March 1886. His father, John, spoke Welsh fluently and worked in a steelworks and later in a coal mine. He married Martha Llewellyn at the English Wesleyan Chapel, Tredegar on Boxing Day 1880. They began married life in Ebbw Vale but later lived in Nant-y-Moel. They had ten children in all.
James was educated at Wyndham School of the Ogmore Vale and Nant-y-Moel Formal Education Council School. He was employed as a miner at Wyndham Colliery, Ogmore Vale. On 24th March 1906 he married Elizabeth Ann Richards at Bridgend Registry Office and they settled in Nant-y-Moel and had four children – William, Morgan, Alewyn and Priscilla.
James enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery on 12th October 1914 and served at the Royal Citadel, Plymouth and transferred to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Litherland, Liverpool on 5th June 1915. James joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 28th August 1915 and joined 8th Battalion at Gallipoli on 9th September. He was evacuated to Alexandria, Egypt with enteric fever in December and returned to Britain on 23rd February 1916 on the strength of the Depot. Having recovered at Stobhill Hospital, Scotland, he joined 3rd (Reserve) Battalion on 7th June and transferred to 5th (Home Service) Garrison Battalion at Wrexham on 21st August. James went to France on 16th December to 5th Infantry Base Depot and joined 13th Battalion on 1st January 1917.
On 31st July 1917 at Polygon Wood, France, during an attack on the enemy's line, this non-commissioned officer pushed through our own barrage and single-handed attacked a machine gun emplacement, after several men had been killed in attempting to take it. He bayoneted one of the machine gun crew and brought in another man, together with the captured gun. Cpl. Davies, although wounded, then led a bombing party to the assault of a defended house, and killed a sniper who was harassing his platoon.
Sadly, James died of his wounds at a 131st Field Ambulance dressing station (believed to be at Canada Farm) later on the 31st July. His platoon commander stated that he died on the 1st August. He was buried in Canada Farm Cemetery, Elverdinghe, Belgium. The VC was presented to his wife and eldest son by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 20th October 1917. She re-married in 1918 to Eli Darby and had another five children. In addition to his VC, he was also awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf. The VC is held by the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL WELCH FUSILIERS MUSEUM, CAERNARFON, WALES.
BURIAL PLACE: CANADA FARM CEMETERY, ELVERDINGHE, BELGIUM.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT II, ROW B, GRAVE 18
James Llewellyn Davies' medals on display at the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle
(Picture - Thomas Stewart).
War Illustrated, 22nd September 1917
The two VC stones (one in English and one in Welsh) laid in Nantymoel on 30th July 2017