Private 9879 John Hugh (Hughie) Davies

Died Home on Tuesday, 22nd December 1914, age 28.
Buried in Grave C. 14. at Portsdown (Christ Church) Military Cemetery, Hampshire, United Kingdom.

1st Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 24th Brigade of 8th Division.

Son of John and Sinah Davies, of 1, North St., Dudley, Worcs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 5th November 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/362109/

Genealogical Data

Birth of John Hugh Davies registered December quarter 1886 in Oswestry.

1891 Census.
Church House, Tong, Shropshire.
John Davies (32, Farmer, born Oswestry), his wife Sinah (30, born Llansaintffraed, Mon), and their 3 children: John Hugh (4, born Llanyblodwel, Salop), Gladys Elizabeth (3, born Tong), and Stanley (1, born Tong).

1901 Census.
34 Chaters Passage, Tipton, Staffs.
John Davies (42, Chaff Cutter, born Oswestry), his wife Lenah (40, born Llansaintffraed, Mon), and their 6 children: John H (14, Assistant in Cart Works, born LLanyblodwel, Salop), Gladys (13, born Tong), Stanley (11, born Tong), Lilian M (9, born Tong), Harry (6, born Penn), and Bertie C. (2, born Minworth).

By 1911, the family were living at 2 Shrubbery Villas, Horseley Road, Tipton. John was the only member missing, having joined the Worcestershire Regiment about 1907. I cannot trace him on the 1911 Census, although the 1st Worcesters were stationed at Albany Barracks, Parkhurst, Isle of Wight.

Personal Data

This is John Hugh Davies, he is commemorated on the Tipton Memorial as J. Hugh. This suggests that someone 'trawled' the Tipton Herald looking for names for the memorial, as he is confusingly referred to as John Hugh in the Tipton Herald of 13th March 1915.

After Hughie's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £12/15/9d (12 pounds, 15 shillings and 9 pence); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Sinah, in October 1915. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in August 1919. Hughie had been a serving soldier at the outbreak of war.

Action resulting in his death

The 1st Worcesters were in Egypt at the outbreak of war and were recalled, landing at Liverpool on 16th October. They joined the newly-formed 8th Division near Winchester, departing from Southampton and landing at Le Havre on 8th November.

On the night of 14th November, the 1st Worcesters went into trenches west of Neuve Chapelle. The trenches faced Neuve Chapelle running north-south from Pont Logy to Port Arthur, the site of today’s Indian Memorial. The German and British trenches were uncomfortably close, within 50 yards near Port Arthur, and the exchange of fire was constant and casualties numerous.

The 1st Worcesters and 1st Sherwood Foresters alternated on front line duty facing Neuve Chapelle facing sniping, artillery shells, and the appalling weather. In the 5 weeks before they were relieved on 22nd December, the 1st Worcesters lost 100 men killed and more than 400 disabled due to severe frostbite.

The Tipton Herald reported that Davies had died “from wounds received in the war” at Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, Hampshire on 22nd December 1914. The ‘Soldiers Final Effects’ papers have been available on Ancestry.co.uk from 2015, and gave more precise information recording that Davies had died in Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, from “frostbite”.

We cannot be sure of the date that Davies suffered the frostbite, but the following detailed paragraph from “The Worcestershire Regiment in the Great War” (page 40) records the conditions suffered by the 1st Worcesters from 14th to 19th November – this may be the date, but at least it gives an indication of the conditions…

“Throughout four days and nights of constant wakefulness the 1st Worcestershire had held their line, under intermittent shell-fire and continuous rain. The cold drizzle had told bitterly on the troops, fresh as they were from the dry heat of Egypt. The frost on the fifth night found officers and men wearied out and soaked to the skin. After dark on November 19th the battalion was relieved by the 2nd Sherwood Foresters. The exhausted troops climbed out of their trenches, waited numb and frozen in a snow-covered field while the battalion assembled and then, in their heavy coats and equipment, staggered back with such paid as can be imagined through a world sheeted white with snow, six long miles to billets at La Gorgue. That march was long remembered in the battalion (Editor: Later dubbed “The Retreat from Moscow”), and to many it was the extreme limit of endurance. Not until 2.30am did the last stragglers crawl in along the slippery roads to their billets. Next day one man in every four was helpless with frost-bitten hands or feet, and nearly 150 serious cases were perforce sent down to the base (in many cases toes or feet had to be amputated). Of one platoon, only thirteen men were able to stand.”

Private John Hugh Davies is buried in the Military Cemetery at the rear of Christ Church, Portsdown.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 13th March 1915
Private John Hugh (Hughie), eldest son of Mr John and Mrs Davies, of 'Woodville', Bridge Road, Tipton, who for the last eight years has been in the 1st Worcesters, has died in the Alexandra Hospital, at Cosham, Hampshire from wounds received in the war. He was only 28 years of age.