Morris-Davies, Cyril Thomas. Died 1st Jul 1916

Cyril Thomas Morris-Davies was born, the youngest of four brothers at Ffosrhydgaled, Llanfarian, Cardiganshire, Wales, in late 1884. His father was Morris Davies, born in Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire in 1843 and who was in 1901, a ‘Barrister at law, not practicing’. His mother was his father’s first wife, Mary Anne Elizabetha née Parry, who was born in 1849 in Llanilar, Cardiganshire, and died in 1888 when Cyril was only about three or four.

Cyril Thomas Morris DaviesHis father later remarried with the widowed Mary Laura L, née Bonsall, Phillips, in 1890. She had been born in about 1853, also in Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire, and was thus some ten years younger than her husband. They had two daughters, and from those youngest daughters’ birth dates, it seems that they moved to Rugby sometime between 1893 and 1894, just before the birth of the youngest daughter.

They quite possibly moved to Rugby to take advantage of the education afforded at the various Rugby Schools as Cyril’s father, Morris Davies, had himself attended Rugby School. Cyril (and his brother) attended Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby, between 1893 and 1898,[1] when Cyril entered Rugby School where he studied until he left in 1902.

By 1901, when he was 15, the family was living at 12 Hillmorton Road, Rugby. In 1911, Cyril was boarding with John Halford, a solicitor’s clerk, and his family at 78 Lower Hillmorton Road, Rugby. He was then a ‘Clerk to member of Birmingham Stock Exchange’.

In 1911, his youngest sister Helen Muriel Morris Davies was 17 and was still at the Laurels Boarding School in Rugby – so he was in a position to keep an eye on her. His other sister, Gwenith May Davies, died aged only 13, in Rugby in 1906.

Whilst he was working in Birmingham, he took up golf and played hockey.   He became sufficiently proficient to win the Birmingham Stock Exchange Challenge Cup for golf on three occasions.   He also played hockey for Warwickshire from 1905 and was Secretary and Captain; he also captained the powerful Midlands team, and represented Wales as an International in twelve out of the fifteen matches prior to the outbreak of War.

It seems that his father and the rest of the family moved back to Wales before 1911 and his father was living there in 1914, as indicated on Cyril’s elder brother’s military records.

Cyril Thomas Morris Davies’s Medal Card[2] shows that enlisted as a Private, No.2809 in [presumably the 6th Battalion] the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. His number suggests this was very early in the war, it is thought between November and December 1914 as Warwickshire soldiers’ records have been found with the numbers between 2199 and 3420, however, his Rugby School obituary suggests it was in September 1914, and that he enlisted when he was aged 29.

The 6th Battalion was formed in August 1914 in Thorp Street, Birmingham, and was part of the Warwickshire Brigade, South Midland Division. It was stationed at first in the Eastern Counties.

Cyril was promoted to Corporal and he went to France with the main Brigade landing at Le Havre on 22/23 March 1915 and entered the trenches between Fouquevillers and Hebuterne, on Easter Sunday, 4 April 1915. On 13 May 1915, the 6th Battalion became part of the 143rd Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division and he was commissioned in the field on 18 September 1915, and appointed on 24 September.

The Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The undermentioned to be Second Lieutenants: Corporal Cyril Thomas Morris Davies. Dated 19th September, 1915.[3]

He was later promoted [?acting] Captain and was certainly in the 6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment for the start of the Battle of the Somme when the Division was involved in the Serre Sector of the Somme from 1-12 July 1916.

The summary account below is of the likely final days of Cyril’s service is edited from The Story of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment:[4]

The British attack on July 1, 1916, extended from Gommecourt to Maricourt, where the French Sixth Army, which lay astride the Somme, was to take it up. At the north of the British line was the Seventh Corps, and next it on the south was the Eighth Corps, under General Hunter-Weston, which included the 48th and 4th Divisions, with the four Warwickshire Territorial battalions in the 143rd Brigade, and the 1st Royal Warwickshire in the 10th Brigade. Its line faced Serre and Beaumont Hamel. East from Albert, in the Fifteenth Corps, the 7th Division with the 2nd Royal Warwickshire lay before Mametz. The enterprise in each region had its special character, and in effect there were two independent actions, one in the north, which failed, and the other in the south, which succeeded.

On 1 July 1916, the …

… 1/6th Battalion and the 143rd Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division was attached to the 11th Brigade (4th Division) followed the 1/8th Royal Warwickshires into attack on the Quadrilateral (1/7) – to the left machine gun fire swept advance and, according to the Battalion historian, reduced it to a strength of 2 weak platoons. Passed through objective and consolidated ground beyond. Withdrew to Mailly-Maillet during night and from there to Couin.

The 1/8th Battalion which they followed had 563 casualties and are recorded as follows …

… 1/8th Battalion … moved forward from Mailly-Maillet (1/7). Attached to 4th Division for attack at Redan Ridge.   Right of assault took The Quadrilateral, passed through and gained support trench beyond. On left, German front line entered under heavy fire from Serre. No further progress made.   Withdrew to Mailly-Maillet.

It was originally reported that Cyril had been taken prisoner.[5] Cyril was ‘Killed in Action’, aged 31, sometime during the attack on the 1 July 1916, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, although the Rugby School obituary suggests 2 July. His body was not found or identified, and he is remembered on Pier and Face 9. A., 9. B., and 10. B. of the Thiepval Memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.   The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932.

Cyril was awarded the 1915 Star; the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Cyril is also remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; and named on the Lawrence Sheriff Memorial Plaque and in Rugby School Memorial Chapel. His obituary, given in the Memorials of Rugbeians who fell in the Great War,[6] provides more details of his life and sporting achievements.

Captain C. T. Morris Davies [Town]

6th Battalion, The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, T.F.

Cyril Thomas Morris Davies was the fourth son of Morris Davies (O.R.,1857-61), J.P. and D.L. for Cardiganshire, of Ffosyrhydgaled, Aberystwyth, and of Mary Anne Elizabetha his wife. He entered the School in 1898 and left in 1902. Shortly after leaving he entered the office of Messrs. W. and F. Cuthbert, Stockbrokers, of Birmingham, and remained with them until the outbreak of War.   Although he never filled a prominent place in games while in the School, he became a good golfer after leaving, winning from scratch the Birmingham Stock Exchange Challenge Cup on three occasions, and developed into a first-class hockey player. He formed one of the Warwickshire County Hockey Team from 1905 onwards, was its Secretary and Captain for some years, and, in 1913, was elected as its Vice-President; he concurrently captained the powerful Midlands team, and represented Wales as an International in twelve out of the last fifteen matches prior to the outbreak of War. In 1909 he was elected a member of the Warwickshire County Cricket Executive Committee.

Early in September, 1914, he enlisted as a private in the Warwickshire Regiment. Stationed at first in the Eastern Counties, he crossed over to France in March, 1915, and entered the trenches between Fouquevillers and Hebuterne, on Easter Sunday, April 4th, and there remained until the end of June, 1916. While serving in France he rose step by step until as Captain and Assistant Adjutant he took part in the great advance on the Somme of July 1st, 1916, and fell mortally wounded on the morning of the following day, while leading his men against the German trenches at Serre, which the Warwicks took but had to relinquish later on in the day, and so his body was not recovered. Age 31.

Although prominent as an athlete, it is for the qualities which he displayed in every-day life that he will be best remembered by the very large and varied circle of friends that he possessed, and to them the following extracts will show that he was true to type to his death.

A fellow Officer, who was with him during the three days that preceded the opening of the Battle of the Somme and his death, wrote:-

“The strain and nerve-racking was uncanny, and I never thought so much of Morris Davies as I did during this time. He was the life and soul of the party, and in the midst of extreme danger always had a joke at his disposal. For three days and nights he had no sleep, and his example and cheery way must have done much to keep us together. Everyone had golden opinions of him: he was game to the end.”

The Adjutant who was left in command of the Battalion through the loss of all his superior Officers on that terrible Saturday wrote:-

“Morris Davies was my understudy and he always did exceedingly well, being so keen and so popular with all ranks.”

Another fellow Officer wrote:-

“He was my best friend and wherever he went he was a prime favourite, and a magnificent sportsman; it is not too much to say he was one of the finest men it has ever been my privilege to meet.”

His full Military Records are held at The National Archives, Kew in file ref: WO 374/18207.

Probate was granted to his elder brother, Hugh Vernon Morris Davies, a solicitor, on 2 May 1917, in London, in the sum of £757-10-7d, to whom also the various balances owed were sent. Hugh Vernon Morris Davies had served for 45 days as No.3292 in the 5th (Home Service) Battalion of the Queens R. W. S., before being discharged having been found medically unfit.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Cyril Thomas      Morris-Davies was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, June 2016.

[1]       Edward Reid-Smith (Compiler), Old Laurentians (Former Schoolboys of Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby) who died during the First World War, 1914-1919 And The Second World War, 1939-1945. Cyril ‘… and his brother, entered as Morris-Davies on pp.5 and 93 of OLS, …’.

 

[2]       Medal Card, TNA Ref: WO 372/5/182271, also on http://www.ancestry.co.uk.

[3]       Supplement To The London Gazette, 22 September 1915, p.9402.

[4]       Edited from: Charles Lethbridge Kingsford, The Story of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Formerly the Sixth Foot) 1674 to 1920, pp.148-158, Chapter XX, The Great War: The Battle Of The Somme, 1916, at http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?/topic/8768-royal-warwickshire-regiment/

[5]       Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 15 July 1916.

[6]       Memorials of Rugbeians who fell in the Great War, Volume IV, pp.176-178

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One thought on “Morris-Davies, Cyril Thomas. Died 1st Jul 1916

  1. It is a comfort and we are very proud to discover that our cousin is remembered in Rugby 100 years on.
    Peter Davies & family

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