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DAVIS, John Murray (1892-1916) +

DAVIS, John Murray (1892-1916)

John Murray Davis was born 25 May 1892, the son of George Martley Davis and Jane Elizabeth nee Manson. He entered Geelong College in 1909. His address at entry was McArthur St, Sale.

During World War I he was working in the pastoral industry at the time of his enlistment (No. 2623B) at Sale on 21 July 1915.

He embarked for France as an Acting Sergeant on HMAT A38 Ulysses on 27 October, 1915 with 24 Battalion (6th Reinforcement Group), transferring to 7 Battalion (C Company) in France.

He met his death at Pozieres on 23 July, 1916, in the very early fighting after the Australians arrived in France, when Pozieres was taken. Pte Percy Thornley, of Sale, who was invalided home the following year, wrote to his family on 10 August, 1916 telling of the circumstances of Jack Davis’s death, this letter was published in the Gippsland Times of 5 October, 1916:
‘I am in the Third Canadian General Hospital France and getting treated for an injury to the head, caused by being buried by a shell, and I am just the thing now. The nurses look after us, and the staff couldn’t be better. I suppose you heard of poor Jack Davis’ death and young Colin Bolitho. I was talking to Colin the night before we made the charge. I will try and give you an account of how poor Jack met his fate. He was my section commander and the second night we were in the trenches there was a heavy bombardment on both sides and my dugout was about five yards from his and the shells were bursting all around us. Jack had just brought around our ration of rum and went back to his dugout when further up the trench the shells came pouring down, and showers of dirt came down in tons and they swept the trench right along, damaging some of the dugouts, but fortunately the chaps had got out of them in time. Jack then called out to us, 'Are you all right there?' I then saw Jack get out of his dugout and go further up the trench to see if there was any more of his section there. He then heard another shell coming, and he and another chap got into the nearest dugout. I heard the shell burst, and showers of earth falling so I called out, 'Are you all right, Jack?' but got no answer. I then got out of my dugout and went around to where the dugout was blown in. I called for assistance and spades and to my surprise there was poor Jack and another fellow by the name of ‘Freddy’ McMahon. I called the doctor but it was to no avail. He never suffered, death being instantaneous, caused by shell shock and concussion. He died doing his duty.’

Lance Corporal Davis has no known grave, his name is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial.

His two brothers, George Leonard Davis (1886-1945) and Donald Allen Davis (1890-1975) were also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: 'Geelong Collegians at the Great War' compiled by J. Affleck. pp27-28 (citing Pegasus; Ron Austin, 'Our Dear Old Battalion: The story of the 7th Battalion AIF 1914-1919'; Gippsland Times 5 October 1916).

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