WW1 Personal Stories

John E Davis

5 February 1881 - 21 March 1918 

Location of death: Somme region

Rank: Gunner, 233rd Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery

Regimental number: 115731

Position at Lloyd's Register: Printing House

Davis was born in Bermondsey, Surrey in 1881. By the 1911 census he was living with his wife, Maria Alice, and their four-year-old son, John Charles, on the New Kent Road in Southwark. 

Whilst working at Lloyd's Register in the Printing House, Davis joined colours 28 August 1916 at Southwark. He joined the Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner. Siege batteries were equipped with heavy, large-calibre guns and howitzers. They were positioned behind the front line and were used primarily to destroy or neutralise the enemy and their artillery (usually before a British foot attack). They were also used to destroy tactical strongpoints, dumps, stores, roads and railways behind enemy lines.

Following the Russian Revolution, and their subsequent withdrawal from the war in 1917, the German army moved the majority of their men that had been stationed on the collapsed Eastern front to the Western front with a plan to destroy the British army. They believed that the British were exhausted by the four major efforts in 1917 (Arras, Messines, Passchendaele and Cambrai), providing them with the opportunity to launch a decisive and destructive attack in the spring of 1918. 

On the 21 March 1918, a major German offensive, known as the Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht, began. In the early hours of the morning, German artillery bombarded the Allied army, targeting Allied trenches and heavy artillery (particularly around St. Quentin). This was the biggest barrage of the war, hitting targets over an area of 150 square miles, firing over 1,100,000 shells in five hours. The Allied Fifth Army were forced to retreat. As Davis was part of the Artillery is was likely that he was involved in this heavy bombardment. Davis died in the Somme region on the 21 March 1918. He is buried at Pozieres along with over 14,000 men who were mainly killed in the 1918 Spring Offensive. 

Pozieres cemetery

For further burial details, including Davis' grave registration report, visit his portal on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

More information about Davis can be found on the Imperial War Museum's Lives of the First World War website.


If John E Davis is one of your relatives or you know more about his life, get in touch at hec.info@lrfoundation.org.uk!