DAVIS, Donald Allen (1890-1975)

Modified on Fri, 12 Aug 2016 18:16 by Con — Categorized as: Biography - All, Biography - Students, Geelong College, Biography of War - World War I

DAVIS, Donald Allen (1890-1975)

Donald Allen Davis was born on 21 December 1890 and was the son of George Martley Davis and Jane Elizabeth nee Manson. He was enrolled at Geelong College in 1907. His address at the time was McArthur St, Sale. He probably left in 1908 as he played in the 1st Football XVIII that year.

He was working as an auctioneer in Sale when he enlisted (No 3109) in the AIF on 10 February 1916, and embarked for Egypt with the 8th Light Horse Regiment, 24th Reinforcement Group on 31 January 1917 on HMAT A25 Anglo-Egyptian.

The 3rd Light Horse Brigade became part of the Anzac Mounted Division and, in March 1916, joined the forces defending the Suez Canal from a Turkish drive across the Sinai Desert. The Turks were turned at Romani. Although it didn’t take part in the actual battle, the 8th Light Horse participated in the advance that followed the Turks’ retreat back across the desert. By December 1916, this advance had reached the Palestine frontier and the 8th was involved in the fighting to secure the Turkish outpost of Maghdaba on 23 December, which was captured at bayonet point.

The next Turkish stronghold to be encountered was Gaza. The 3rd Light Horse Brigade, now part of the Imperial Mounted Division, was involved in the two abortive battles to capture Gaza directly (27 March and 19 April 1917) and then the operation that ultimately led to its fall – the wide outflanking move via Beersheba that began on 31 October. With the fall of Gaza on 7 November 1917, the Turkish position in Southern Palestine collapsed.

The 8th participated in the pursuit that followed and led to the capture of Jerusalem in December. The focus of British operations then moved to the Jordan Valley. In early May 1918, the 8th was involved in the Es Salt raid. It was a tactical failure but did help to convince the Turks that the next offensive would be launched across the Jordan.

Instead, the offensive was launched along the coast on 19 September 1918. The mounted forces penetrated deep into the Turkish rear areas severing roads, railways and communications links. The 8th Light Horse took part in the capture of Tiberius on 25 September and Sasa on 29 September. It entered Damascus on 1 October, and was resting in Homs when the Turks surrendered on 31 October. While waiting to embark for home, the regiment was called back to operational duty to quell the Egyptian revolt that erupted in March 1919.

Sergeant Davis transferred to AIF Headquarters Cairo on 19 January 1919, and returned to Australia, embarking on 8 April 1919 on HT Karoo.

Donald Davis died on 3 May 1975.

His younger brother, who also was educated at College, L/Cpl John Murray Davis (1892-1916) was killed in action at Pozieres on 23 July 1916, his name is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial, France. A third brother, George Leonard Davis (1886-1945) also attended College.

Sources: Based on an edited extract from Geelong Collegians at the Great War compiled by James Affleck. p167 (citing Pegasus; Australian War Memorial; National Archives).