Published By Derek Noton
John Oswald Vincent Davies was born in 1891 at Oswestry, the second child and only son of William and Mary Davies. His sisters were Mary and Gladys. The family lived at 1 Porkington Terrace on Willow Street. William, his father, ran a draper business in town, John followed him into the retail trade and by 1911 had moved to London to take up a job in the draper department at Messrs Marshall and Snelgrove, a department store on Oxford Street – the firm was taken over by Debenhams in 1919. He seems to have been living in staff accommodation on Marylebone Lane.
He enlisted at Oswestry in March 1915 joining 20 (Reserve) Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Kinmel Camp, North Wales. After training he was posted to 16 Bn RWF and went over to France with the battalion on 2 December 1915 – he served in No 5 Platoon, B Company. In March 1916 he spent about 6 weeks in hospital with an affliction of boils, rejoining his unit in June 1916 just prior to the Somme Offensive. The battalion saw its first action at Mametz Wood where John was KIA on 10 July 1916. He, along with 7 other men from 16 & 14 Bn RWF, were buried on the battlefield – at the edge of the wood about 500m west of the Welsh Memorial at Mametz Wood. They were exhumed in November 1919 and re-interred at Danzig Valley Cemetery where they are buried together.
The news of John’s death took a while to reach his parents. At first he was posted as missing but three weeks later his father had a letter from one of John’s comrades saying that his boy had been killed. At the end of July his father wrote to the army records office asking for news of his son. He wrote again on the 5 August – he had not heard from him for over a month now and wanted to know, ‘is he safe and with his regiment’. The letter is signed off ‘Kindly reply as early as possible, from anxious Father… yours truly’. The War Office replied that they would look into the matter. By October 1919 they had still not found him, he most likely was ‘discovered’ at his re-interment the next month.