b. 28/04/1889 Tipton, Staffordshire. d. 16/02/1976 Bournemouth, Dorset.
Joseph John Davies (1889-1976) was born at 7 Nock Street, Tipton, Staffordshire on 28th April 1889. His father, John, served in the 7th Regiment of Foot (Royal Fusiliers) for 12 years, including during the 1878-1880 Afghanistan War, in which he was wounded. He later became a miner. His mother was Ann nee Bullock from Bilston, Staffordshire. She had previously married another soldier, David Allen in 1877 in Dudley. They had two children. She is reputed to have married John Davies after David Allen, but the marriage to John was registered in 1876 in Wolverhampton. It is believed that Joseph had at least six siblings from his father and Ann’s marriage.
Joseph was educated at Greatbridge Council School, Tipton. He was then employed as a planer at Old Park Works, Wednesbury. He married Lucy Mason on 8th June 1908 at St Mary’s and All Saints, Walsall and sadly their first child died in infancy. Joseph enlisted in the Welsh Regiment on 19th August 1909 and reported to the Depot at Cardiff on 25th August. He was posted to the 1st Battalion at Bordon, Hampshire. He served in Egypt, and became an Armourer’s Assistant.
On 27th January 1914, he departed Egypt with the Battalion, arriving in Bombay, India on 6th February. He was a regimental policeman for two months before returning to the role of armourer. He left India in November 1914, arriving back in England on Christmas Eve. Joseph’s marriage to Lucy ended in divorce due to her relationship with Benjamin Andrews.
Joseph was posted to France with his Battalion on 16th January 1915, and he was wounded at Ypres on 10th March and evacuated to Britain. He returned to France in May and was appointed Lance Corporal. He transferred to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 11th August and was posted to Gibraltar to join 1st Garrison Battalion. He was promoted Lance Corporal on 30th September, acting corporal in January 1916 and Corporal in April 1916. He was posted to the 10th Battalion in France on 8th May.
On 20th July 1916 at Delville Wood, France, prior to an attack on the enemy, Corporal Davies and eight men became separated from the rest of the company. When the enemy delivered their second counterattack, the party was completely surrounded, but Corporal Davies got his men into a shell hole and by throwing bombs and opening rapid fire he succeeded in routing the attackers, and even followed and bayoneted them in their retreat.
He was promoted Acting Sergeant on the day of his action. He then was wounded in the left shoulder on 8th August and returned to Britain. On 2nd October, the VC ribbon was presented to him by Brigadier General RJ Kentish DSO, on his last day in command of 76th Brigade, at Enquin-les-Mines. The VC was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 7th October 1916. Joseph’s arm was again in a sling and the King had to pin the medal to it. He was also awarded the Russian Cross of St George 1st Class on 15th February 1917.
Joseph was posted to 3rd (Reserve) Battalion on 27th June and transferred to the Military Provost Staff Corps as a Sergeant on 19th September, due to being unfit for active duty because of a severe shoulder wound. He was discharged from the Army on 14th December 1918, surplus to military requirements. That was not the end though, as he re-enlisted in the Herefordshire Regiment (Territorial Army) on 13th November 1920 and was promoted to Sergeant in 1921. He was discharged in November 1922.
On 23rd June 1919, he married Elsie Thomas in Hereford Registry Office. They lived at first in Hereford, before moving to Birmingham where Joseph was a commissionaire for the Birmingham Corporation Gasworks. They went on to have two daughters called Elsie Victoria and Joyce Irene. During World War Two, Joseph was not fit enough for the Home Guard and instead served as Regimental Sergeant Major of Poole Cadet Force in Dorset. He was also Chief ARP Warden at Oakdale, Poole and worked as the Royal Navay Cordite Factory at Holton Heath throughout the war.
Joseph died at Bournemouth Royal National Hospital, Dorset on 16th February 1976. He was cremated at Bournemouth Crematorium and his ashes were scattering on Evening Hill, overlooking Poole Harbour. In addition to the VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, Defence Medal 1939-45. George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 and the Russian Cross of St George 1st Class. The VC and other medals are held by the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS MUSEUM, CAERNARFON, WALES.
BURIAL PLACE: BOURNEMOUTH CREMATORIUM, BOURNEMOUTH, DORSET. ASHES SCATTERED AT EVENING HILL, OVERLOOKING POOLE HARBOUR.
Joseph Davies and Albert Hill Memorial Tree in Delville Wood, France.
Picture - Thomas Stewart
Meeting the actor Kenneth More in 1975 at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth
Victoria Park, Tipton (Deb Evans)