Private
Alfred Edward Davis DCM

Map

About Alfred Edward

  • Name
    Alfred Edward
  • Initials
    AE
  • Surname
    Davis
  • Date of Birth
    1896
  • Birth town
    Whittlesey Cambridgeshire
  • Resided town
    Whittlesey and Peterborough
  • Commemorated
    Cambridgeshire Roll of Honour
  • Nationality
    British
  • Place of death
    Gunthorpe, Peterborough
  • Date of death
    21/11/1965
  • Married
    yes
  • Occupation
    Brickyard Labourer

Service Information

  • Army

  • Service Number
    1547
  • Rank
    Private
  • Regiment
    Cambridgeshire Regiment

Biography

Alfred grew up in the Kings Dyke area of Whittlesey, a community that grew from the success of the London brick company. On the 1901 Census he was living with his parents Edward and Eliza Ann (Hercock) and two younger siblings, Mary and Charles at Delph Street, Whittlesey.  His father was a brickyard worker.

Alfred attended Whittlesey Council School.  On the 1911 Census the family were living at 10 Kings Dyke, Whittlesey and both Alfred, aged 15, and his father were brickyard labourers. He had four living siblings, Mary, Charles, Alice and Cyril.  In 1913, he entered railway service as a fireman at March in Cambridgeshire.

At the outbreak of war, Alfred was called up as a Territorial in the Cambridgeshire Regiment; aged 18. However, tragedy struck when he accidentally shot his friend and colleague, 915 Corporal Arthur Rawson of the 1/1st Cambridgeshire Regiment Territorial Force of Whittlesey on 9th August 1914.  Whilst the 1/1st were at Romford, the guard, under Corporal Rawson, had stood down for the night and the men had retired.  The incident happened whilst the men were sleeping; Private Davis lay down with his rifle and it is believed that a button on his  greatcoat caught the trigger of his rifle, which he believed to have been unloaded and checked by Corporal Rawson, and a shot was fired.  The bullet entered Corporal Rawson’s leg via the calf, travelled up his leg and through his groin, severing an artery.  Despite the efforts by the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) officer to stop the bleeding his leg was amputated but he died shortly after the operation.  It is thought that Arthur was one of the first British soldiers to die as a result of “accidental fire” in the UK.

The findings of the Court Inquiry published in the Cambridgeshire Times later that week were defined as “a tragic accident with a verdict given of ‘Accidental Death’ with no parties were to blame”.

Ironically Lance Corporal Davis was badly wounded, resulting in the amputation of his leg, when rescuing a wounded comrade under heavy shell fire at Ypres (Fosse Wood, Zillebeke, Belgium) in May 1915, whilst working as a stretcher bearer.  This resulted in him being awarded the Cambridgeshire Regiments’ earliest Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).  He spent many months in hospital undergoing numerous operations before being discharged in 1916, as no longer physically fit for war service.  Alfred served from 4 April 1913 to 31 January 1916 and as well as the DCM, was awarded the British War and Victory Medals, the 14/15 Star and Silver War Badge.

His DCM award was reported in the London Gazette on 11 March 1916 and the citation stated “For conspicuous gallantry as a stretcher bearer.  He was seriously wounded in the attempt to bring in a wounded man under heavy fire.”

Alfred married Gertrude Blackshire at Easter 1917 and they lived in High Street, Fletton, Peterborough; they had a son and two daughters.  Following Gertrude’s death in 1923 her sister Maud Lily came to live with the family to help Alfred with his very young family.  Alfred and Maud married in 1926.

In 1918 Alfred’s parents also moved to live in Peterborough at Silver Street, Woodston.

After the War, Alfred returned to working for the railways as a clerk in the Motive Power Department, firstly at the East Station until 1920, then working at Cambridge, March and Peterborough North Station before transferring to the Carriage and Wagon Department at Peterborough North in 1948, where he was made chief clerk in 1950 and subsequently retired in 1956 on his 60th birthday.

Alfred had many interests including being financial secretary of the Peterborough Branch of the Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association and secretary of the Whittlesey Branch of the Cambridgeshire Regiment Old Comrades Association.  He was a serving brother of the Knights of St George and chairman of the Helping Hands Club, to name but a few.  He was also a keen bowls player being vice-president of the West Ward Bowls Club and a member of the British Railways Bowls Club.

Alfred died on 21 November 1965, aged 69 years, whilst living at Gunthorpe, Peterborough.

We have made contact with both Alfred’s daughter and niece, who have helped us with information on Alfred’s life.

 

 

 

 

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