ABLE SEAMAN JOSEPH HENRY DAVIES
ROYAL NAVAL DIVISION
1ST APRIL 1918 AGE 20
BURIED: DOULLENS COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION NO. 1, TANZANIA
By 1918 the Royal Naval Division was a British Army division, the 63rd. However, it began life in 1914 as a division of Royal Naval and Marine reservists who, as the Navy didn't need them, fought on land as soldiers. Their soldiers used naval ranks, which is why Joseph Davies was an Able Seaman, the equivalent rank to Private.
On 24 March 1918, Hood Battalion were caught up in a complicated fighting retreat from Flesquieres, just east of Bapaume. Davies died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station cemetery at Doullens on 1 April.
His mother chose his inscription - At the end of a perfect day. It comes from 'A Perfect Day', a popular, sentimental song written by Carrie Jacobs-Bond in 1909. In the song, the singer looks back over a perfect day, taking pleasure from its memories but feeling sorrow at the need to part with friends. Verse two transfers these thoughts to life:
Well, this is the end of a perfect day,
Near the end of a journey, too;
But it leaves a thought that is big and strong,
With a wish that is kind and true.
For mem'ry has painted this perfect day
With colours that never fade,
And we find at the end of a perfect day
The soul of a friend we've made.
Joseph Davies was John and Fanny Davies' eldest child. He was born and brought up in Wolverhampton where his father was a turner in an electrical engineering works. His mother too had a job, one of the very few women I've come across in this project who had a job outside the home - and this despite the fact that in 1911 she had a six-month-old baby. Fanny Davies worked in an enamel works where it looks as though her job was a 'swiller'.