RFA West Lancs Bdes
681555 GNR. H. DAVIS. R.F.A.
Herbert Davis was born on 9 September 1894 in Blackburn and baptised at Blackburn St Mary’s on 30 September. His father was Stanley Davis (b. 1870 in Blackburn), a twister and drawer in a cotton mill. His mother was Mary Agnes Cummings (b. 1869 in Blackburn). Stanley and Mary Agnes were married in Blackburn in 1893 and they had eight children, though two died in infancy. Herbert was their first born. He was followed by: Ralph (b. 1896), Florrie (b. 1899), Alice (b. 1901), Joseph (b. 1904) and Margaret (b. 1906). In 1911, the family was living at 58 Hickory Street, Blackburn. Herbert was a cotton weaver. In September 1914, Herbert married Minnie Smith (b. 1893 in Burnley). They moved to 28 Frederick Street, Blackburn, and Herbert got a job at Blackburn railway station.
These photographs were shared by family members on ancestry.co.uk
1915 was a momentous but also tragic year for Herbert and Minnie. Their daughter, Florence, was born in the first quarter of the year. In May, Herbert, still only 20, enlisted with the Royal Field Artillery. He was eventually assigned service number 681555 and posted to “C” Battery of 286 Brigade. But whilst he was in training, at the end of 1915, Florence died, before her first birthday.
In June 1917, 286 Brigade were defending Armentières and the War Diary reports regular enemy bombardment of the town and the artillery batteries. 286Bde were engaged in wire-cutting and general harassment of the enemy, but suffered retaliation. On 11 June, the Diary records: “1 Other Rank D/286 wounded. A/286 Bde position heavily shelled with 5.9s. C/286 Bde 2 O/R killed in action, 14 O/R wounded. Wire-cutting. S.O.S. – Enemy succeeded in entering our front-line trench but did not get out again”. Herbert Davis was one of the men killed, he was 22 years old.
Service No: 681555
Date of Death: 11/06/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “C” Bty, 286 Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: II. C. 6.
Cemetery/Memorial: ERQUINGHEM-LYS CHURCHYARD EXTENSION
More tragedy followed when Minnie, Herbert’s wife, died in Blackburn in 1918, at the age of 25.
Herbert’s brother Ralph also served in the Royal Field Artillery. He was 42686 GNR. R. DAVIS. I believe he served with 170th Brigade but can’t be certain. His medal records indicate he landed in France on 4 September 1915. He served throughout the War and after the War in 1921 he married Gertie Burg (b. 1897 in Blackburn). They had 4 children though one sadly died aged only two weeks.. Ralph died in Blackburn in 1979.