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 Davies

His 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.

Cyrilis 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

 

8th Jan 1916. Pigeons on War Service

PIGEONS ON WAR SERVICE

WARNING AGAINST SHOOTING

Attention is called by the War Office to the fact that a large number of carrier or homing pigeons are being utilised for naval and military purposes, and that recently many of these birds have been shot at and killed or wounded when homing to their lofts.

The public are earnestly requested to exercise the greatest care to avoid repetition of such unfortunate incidents, and are warned that persons convicted of wilfully shooting such birds are liable to prosecution.

Persons who are unable to distinguish with certainty carrier or homing pigeons on the wing from wood pigeons, doves, and the like, should refrain from firing at any birds of these species.

Any person who finds any carrier or homing pigeon dead or incapable of flying from wounds, injuries, or exhaustion is earnestly requested immediately to take the bird to the nearest military authorities or to the police, or if unable to secure the bird he should immediately give information to one or other of those authorities.

Information regarding the shooting of such birds should be given to the same authorities.

LOCAL WAR NOTES

Lieut C T Morris Davies, of Rugby – the Welsh international hockey player, and Captain of the Rugby Hockey Club – who has been in France for about ten months, is now on a week’s leave from his regiment, the 6th Warwickshire. He visited Rugby on Saturday last on his way to his home near Aberystwyth. The hardships of trench life do not seem to have affected his health, as he was looking exceedingly well.

L-CORPL W H ADAMS, OF DUNCHURCH, PRESUMED TO BE DEAD.

This week Mr and Mrs H Adams, of Dunchurch, received a communication from the Government to the effect that as no further news had been received concerning Lance-Corpl William Henry Adams, of the 2nd R.W.R, who has been missing since about October 20th, 1914, it was presumed that he was killed at about that date. The usual letter of condolence was enclosed. Lance-Corpl Adams, who was 24 years of age, had served nearly seven years in the Army, and had secured a first-class certificate for signalling. At the front he acted as a bicycle despatch rider, but had only been in France a week or two before he met his death. Some time ago the parents received news that their son was a prisoner at Gottingen, Germany, but inquiry being made it was ascertained that this was not so.

WELL-KNOWN JOCKEY INTERNED IN GERMANY

Mr and Mrs Davies, of Lower Street, Hillmorton, have since the outbreak of the war been anxiously waiting for news of their son, Fred Davies, who was in Germany in the summer of last year and was interned there. At last a letter has been received from him by his sister, living in Surrey. He is interned at Ruhleben, and writes to acknowledge the safe arrival of a top coat, which he says “fits a treat and is very warm.” At night the coat is used as a blanket for his bed. He adds that he is now all right for clothes, but would much appreciate condensed milk, butter, sugar, a bit of cheese, or a little tin of salmon. As a jockey Fred Davies has done well, having finished second on the list in that country. He was riding for Mr Beit, a Hamburg owner of race horses, when diplomatic relations were broken off between this country and Germany, with the result that, with many others in Germany at the time, he was detained.

OLD MURRAYIAN’S LETTER

Sapper Geo A Golby, a former scholar at the Murray School, and an “Over” Prize man, in a letter to Mr W T Coles Hodges from the front says: “I have been out here since early in October, and have got quite used to the shells, etc, screaming over my head… I look forward to receiving the Rugby Advertiser every week, and am always pleased when I see the name of one of my old school chums in the list of recruits. I think by the number of names I have seen that our school is doing its share to free the world of these barbarians, and I am sure that if those who have not enlisted could just have a glimpse of this country, they would not hesitate for a minute. Only this morning we passed about a dozen old people (all between 60 and 70 years of age, I should think) whom the Germans had shelled out of their homes. It is a sight such as these that make us so anxious to get at the Huns. .. I am pleased to say we are having a spell of fine weather just now, and goodness only knows we want it, as we are nearly up to our knees in mud in some places. This is the only thing to complain of out here; the food is extra.”

Pte George Leach (“Bogie”), another Old Murrayian, who is at present in the Near East, in a letter to his old headmaster, says: It is most interesting to see some of the natives with their garbs and costumes, and their methods of transport with market wares, which vividly remind me of the Biblical times we read about.

FROM AN OLD ST MATTHEW’S BOY

The following extract from letters of an “old boy” of St Matthew’s School to Mr R H Myers, headmaster, will be read with interest:-

Sergt Frank Chater, serving with the Nigerian Forces, writes: ” I have now been in the Cameroons some time. When I reached Africa I disembarked at Lagos, caught a train for there the same night, and after two nights and one day on the train, reached Minna. I rested there for a day, then did another day’s train journey to Baro, where I got on a steam boat and went up the River Niger to Lokaja. I stayed a coupe of days at Lokaja, then got on the River Benue and had a fourteen days’ run to Yola. The river journey is the reverse of pleasant, owing to the close proximity of the natives in a small boat. The smell from them and the engines combine to make a most uncomfortable time to be a white man. I remained three days in Yola, and then started on a fifteen days’ trek through the bush, to join the column at a place called Mora in the Cameroons. I rather fancy this is a record journey for a newcomer to the country. I turned out for action the same day that I reached the column, but nothing happened. On the following night we stormed the German position, which is on the top of a mountain. It was a terrible job, but after climbing all night up and over rocks, some of which seemed like the side of a house, we nearly reached the top by daybreak. The Germans gave us a warm reception, and we charged to try and take the fort. We were repulsed, though, and had to retire and take cover behind rocks, where we managed to hold on till dark, being neither able to advance or retire. However, under cover of darkness we managed to get away. I was fortunate to get off safely. One officer was killed and another wounded, and native soldiers were hit all round. We have now given up the idea of taking the place by assault, and are trying to starve them out. .. This scrapping in the Cameroons is not all honey by a long way. Here is a sample of my job. outpost duty in the bush, with 30 native soldiers, no one to talk to, and never knowing when you may run into German sniping parties, and the only water to be had from a filthy old well, which anyone at home would shudder to look at. Just now I am better off, being in charge of a small fort on a hill. We are, however, uncomfortably near to the German position, and they keep potting away if you try to move, so that the only chance of exercise is in the dark.

We are at the end of a range of mountains running down to the coast, and beyond the mountains is Lake Chad, only about three weeks’ trek from here. The people are all pagans, and the hill tribes are rather a poor type of native. All they wear is a goatskin round their loins. They will do anything for the white man, and appear to like the English, but we know that they supply the Germans with food and water so it is no good trusting them.

 

RUGBY FOOTBALL MATCH NEAR THE TRENCHES.

A Rugby football match between “ A ” and “ C ” Companies of the 1st/7th Warwicks was played near the trenches in France recently, which ” C ” Company won by a try. The teams were :—

“ C ” Company : R Edwards ; L Dewis, A Bale, P Hammond, Lance-corpl E Iliffe ; A Loave, Drummer W Newman ; W Arnold, S Cross, G Clarke, A Rose, W Salmons, W Gibbs, F Lombard, I Walden.

“ A ” Company : Lieut Field ; Faulkes, Sergt Atkinson, Redfern, S O Else ; West, Ralph ; Eyden, Corpl Caldicott, Corpl Goode, Prentice, Wykes, Adams, Dunn, A N Other.

MORE DAMAGE BY THE WIND.-On Saturday evening, during a recurrence of the gale, several trees on the Coventry Road between Dunchurch and the Station were blown down, and a great deal of damage was done to the telephone wires. In several places all of them were broken down. At Bilton Grange all the fancy work on the top of the vinery and glass houses for a length of between forty and fifty yards was torn away, doing great damage to the glass. Several trees also came down, and the household were very much alarmed. At Mr. Loverock’s Farm, between Dunchurch and Rugby, a wheat rick was blown over, and several sheaves of corn were carried the length of three fields away. The gale also did great damage to the roof of the wagon hovel.