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William Davies was born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire in 1883. His parents were David Charles Davies and Winifred Wood.

William first enlisted into the Army at Preston on 6th September 1904. He was 18 years old and had previously been part of the Lancashire Royal Field Artillery (Militia). He gave his occupation in civilian life as being a groom and expressed his desire to serve with the Welsh Regiment. This wish was not fulfilled and he was posted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 7994.

William appointed his father as his legal next of kin and his address as 4 Romulus Street, Liverpool. His father later moved to 37 Lomond Road, Edge Lane, Liverpool.

At the time of his enlistment the medical officer described William as being 5ft 6in tall, weighing 115lbs with a 34.5in chest. Six months later after a course in ‘gymnastic training’  he had apparently grown to 5ft 7.5in, weighed 133lbs and had a 36in chest. William had brown hair, brown eyes and a scar on the back of his left hand.

During this first stint with the Army, William served three years with the 1st Battalion and gained one good conduct badge. He transferred to the reserve on 5th September 1907.

On 5th October 1910 he married Dorothy Jane (nee Duck) in Birkenhead. They had two children together, Barbara Wood Davies (b. 17/03/1912) and Dorothy Joan Davies (b. 31/12/1914).

When War broke out seven years into his reserve commitment, in August 1914 he was mobilized and rejoined the 1st Battalion. William sailed to France with the initial deployment of the 1st Battalion on 12th August 1914 as part of the 1st Division.

William was reported to be missing at TROYON sometime between 14-18th September 1914. In October his name appeared on the list of men who had been taken as a prisoner of war by the Germans and were being held at Döberitz (a large camp 8 miles from Berlin holding Russian, Polish, French, and British prisoners). When he was taken prisoner he had a rifle wound to his right lung.

Memories from the family

He was a prisoner of war, he escaped through the Black Forest with a French prisoner, the French wanted to decorate him but he refused the honour. He was a singer, and sang to the Germans while in captivity, cutting Russian prisoners down (they were hung up by their thumbs) at night. The Germans let him get away with it because he could sing.

He killed a German in a fight and was sentenced to death. He was in solitary for two years. His sentence was reduced to a Court Marshal when the Red Cross intervened, then he escaped anyway. When he and the French prisoner reached the border, they were helped over by the guard.

William arrived back in England three days after the armistice, 14th November 1918 and was discharged to the reserve on 13th February 1919. He gave his address of intended residence as 37 London Road, Battersea Rise, London. Including his reserve service he had served for 15 years 208 days.

Memories from the family

William died when he was fairly young due to the effects of TB ruining his voice, depression (in hindsight) and drink.

Paul McCormick
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