Profile

DAVIS, George Harcus
(Service number 7/707)

Aliases Birth registered as George William DAVIS. Enlisted as George DAVIS. George Harcus DAVIS on CWGC & probate.
First Rank Trooper Last Rank Lance Corporal

Birth

Date 9 November 1891 Place of Birth Central Otago

Enlistment Information

Date 30 October 1914 Age 22 years 11 months
Address at Enlistment Pleasant Point 
Occupation Farmer
Previous Military Experience 8th South Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Miss Maggie DAVIS (sister), The Manse, Weston, near Oamaru. Later of Tumai Estate, Waikouaiti
Religion Anglican
Medical Information Height 5 feet 5½ inches. Weight 140 lbs. Chest measurement 32-36½ inches. Complexion fair. Eyes light brown. Hair light brown. Sight and hearing both good. Colour vision correct. Limbs and chest both well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Heart and lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 2nd Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Canterbury Mounted Rifles
Date 14 December 1914
Transport Verdala or Willochra or Knight of the Garter
Embarked From Wellington Destination Suez, Egypt
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Mounted Rifles

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkans (Gallipoli); Egyptian
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards Mentioned in Despatches (MiD), 13 October 1916

Award Circumstances and Date

Mentioned in despatches from General Sir Alexander Murray, K.C.B. Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force. L.G. 1 December 1916, p. 11808.

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date

Discharge

Date Reason

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

August 1916 - reported wounded (& missing).

Post-war Occupations

Death

Date 9 August 1916 Age 25 years
Place of Death Canal Zone, Egypt
Cause Killed in action
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. Initially buried in Battlefield.
Memorial Reference A. 24
New Zealand Memorials Timaru War Memorial Wall; Pleasant Point War Memorial 

Biographical Notes

George Harcus Davis was born on 9 November 1891 in Central Otago (possibly in the vicinity of Macraes Flat), the third son of Frederick and Jane (née Harcus) Davis, and the middle of five children who lost both their parents when they were all very young. Frederick Herbert (Fred) Davis died on 29 August 1897. He had been working at the Mount Highlay mine for some time and had taken ill there, with inflammation of the lungs. He returned to his home at Hyde, Central Otago, a week before his death and was tended by doctors. Sadly he died aged just 39 years, leaving a widow and five little children, for whom he was the sole support. The local community immediately collected over £3 at a concert for Jane and the children who were left almost destitute. Fred was buried in the Hyde Cemetery. Further tragedy struck sixteen months after. Jane Davis died on 27 December 1898 at Dunedin, after a short illness. An inquest was held, a verdict of death from natural causes being returned. Thirty-one year old Jane was buried in the Northern Cemetery, Dunedin. Five young orphaned children were left to mourn the death of their mother.

Along with his older siblings, Fred and Robert, George had started at Moonlight School and was transferred to nearby Hyde School in July 1897. In April 1898 their mother took them to Dunedin. Immediately after their mother’s death all five – Frederick (12), Robert (10, George (7), Thomas (5) and Margaret (3) - were “children within the meaning of the Industrial Schools Act”. Prior to her death Mrs Davis was receiving aid from the Benevolent Institution Trustees, and now the children were totally destitute. There was no one to look after them. Mrs Davis was described as a hard-working woman. The children were to be admitted to the Caversham Industrial School, and brought up in the Church of England religion – or Presbyterian. Frederick was voted most popular boy by his schoolmates at the end of 1899 and received a prize. It appears that, from late January 1899, some of the other children, including George, were entrusted to several guardians and educated at a number of schools. In late January 1899 George attended Waikouaiti School for a month before returning to Dunedin, as did Thomas. Robert remained at the Industrial School until November 1899, afterwards enjoying four years at Waikouaiti. From Waikouaiti George went to Berwick/Waipori Lake, having some stability for nearly three years, before moving to Papakaio School near Oamaru late in 1902. At the last two schools he was joined by his younger siblings, Thomas and Maggie. George, Thomas and Maggie seem to have remained in the Oamaru rural area, although Maggie had a stint back at the Industrial School. At the age of 14 George went out to work.

George Davis enlisted simply as George. His birth was registered as George William Davis; and on the CWGC records and in his probate he is recorded as George Harcus Davis. G. Davis was one of the South Canterbury men selected in October 1914 to go to the front as reinforcements for the mounted men. He enlisted on 20 October 1914 at Timaru, aged 22 years 11 months. A farmer residing at Pleasant Point, single and Anglican, he named as next-of-kin his sister, Miss Maggie Davis, The Manse, Weston, near Oamaru, and later of Tumai Estate, Waikouaiti. With fair complexion, and light brown eyes and hair, George was of relatively small build - 5 feet 5½ inches tall and weighing 140 pounds in weight, with a chest measurement of 32-36½ inches. He was in good physical condition in all respects, with good teeth and vaccinated. All his faculties were good and he was free of disease. He had experience with the 8th South Canterbury Mounted Rifles, which suggested he had been in the area for some time.

The mounteds at Trentham went out for a route march on the morning of 4 December 1914. The next day was a big one at Trentham Camp for the 2000 or so soldiers of the 2nd Reinforcements. The men were given an early Christmas dinner, followed by military sports. They were “banqueted in right royal style” – poultry, roast lamb and mint sauce, roast suckling pig, roast veal and beef, beautifully dressed and decorated hams, various kinds of vegetables and salads, plum puddings, fruit pies and all kinds of pastry, fruit salads and delicious jellies “with buckets of cream fresh from the dairy”, apples and oranges, dates, figs, almonds and muscatels, nuts, and assorted sweet; plus Christmas cakes, soft drinks and cigarettes. The sports, held on the racecourse, proved highly enjoyable, and the events were keenly contested. The remainder of the week was to be spent in a course of musketry, troop, squadron, and outpost drill, and training in field operations. The following week, their seventh in camp, would involve instructions in troop and squadron drill, protection, information, and tactical action.

Each member of the 2nd Reinforcements was given a two-leaf pamphlet of messages. The Minister of Defence stated: “Remember that you will hold the Dominion’s honour in your keeping. . . . . . . , see that you are brave as you are honourable, and modest and courteous as you are brave.” On the Saturday prior to departure, the troops marched to Newton Park for inspection and addresses. Lord Liverpool said: “We have come here to-day to wish you ‘bon voyage,’ and, we hope, a speedy return to these shores. . . . . . I am not going to wish you ‘good-bye’ but ‘au revoir’.” After a psalm reading, prayer and benediction, the National Anthem was sung.

Trooper Davis embarked with the Canterbury Mounted Rifles on 14 December 1914 at Wellington, destined for Suez, Egypt, which he reached on 3 February 1915. He further embarked for the Dardanelles on 9 May 1915. In October 1915 he was admitted to the Field Ambulance at Mudros, suffering from jaundice. Five days later - on 29 October 1915, he was appointed Lance Corporal. Early in 1916, George disembarked at Alexandria. Rejoining his Unit he left for Canal.

A heavy casualty list (No. 400) named seven men wounded and missing, as of 9 August 1916, among them Lance-Corporal G. Davis, 7/707. It was thought that he may have been taken prisoner of war. By early September it was confirmed that George Davis had been killed in action on 9 August, in Canal Zone, Egypt, aged 25 years. A fit, healthy young man struck down in the prime of life. G. Davis was initially buried on the Battlefield, before formal burial in the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt. The Kantara Cemetery, which was started in February 1916, is situated on the eastern side of the suez Canal.

Lance-Corporal George Davis, 7/707, was posthumously mentioned in despatches from General Sir Archibald Murray, K.C.B. Commander-in-Chief, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, on 13 October 1916. (London Gazette, 1 December 1916, p. 11808.) “Sir Archibald is unstinted in his approbation of the gallantry and steadfastness of the Australian and New Zealand mounted troops,” reported the Press on 29 January 1917. His medals - 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, plaque and memorial scroll were sent to his oldest brother F. (Frederick) H. Davis at Wanganui in 1921/22. His estate which was administered by the Public Trustee, consisted of cash in bank, cash in possession and military pay, and amounted to £199.17s.5d. In respect to this, George Harcus Davis was identified as a farm labourer, late of Kaupokonui in the District of Taranaki. His younger brother Thomas Makepeace Davis, who also served in World War I, was killed in action at Passchendaele on 12 October 1917; another brother, Robert Harcus Davis, also served in World War I.

The name of G. Davis is inscribed on the Timaru War Memorial Wall and the Pleasant Point War Memorial. In September 1921 the Pleasant Point War Memorial was unveiled in an impressive ceremony. Sited in a commanding position, it is an imposing monument constructed largely of Coromandel granite, with the names – including that of G. Davis - clearly engraved beneath the inscription – “Our Glorous Dead. Their Memory Liveth for Ever.” Wreaths were laid on the steps and the “The Last Post” sounded by the bugler.

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [20 October 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0032416) [13 August 2014]; CWGC [21 October 2013]; Otago Daily Times, 1 September 1897, 31 December 1898, 6 January 1899, Otago Witness, 2 September 1897, 5 January 1899, Mount Ida Chronicle, 3 & 4 September 1897, Evening Star, 29 December 1898, 5 January 1899, 26 December 1899, Timaru Herald, 20 October 1914, 22 August 1916, 7 September 1916, Evening Post, 4, 7 & 10 December 1914, 21 August 1916, New Zealand Times, 14 December 1914, Temuka Leader, 15 December 1914, 17 September 1921, Manawatu Standard, 21 August 1916, North Otago Times, 22 August 1916, Taranaki Daily News, 22 August 1916, Oamaru Mail, 6 & 7 September 1916, Sun, 6 September 1916, Press, 29 January 1917, Hawera & Normanby Star, 13 October 1917 (Papers Past) [10 November 2013; 02 August 2015; 06 February 2018; 20 & 21 June 2019]; NZ BDM historical records indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [10 November 2013]; School Admission Records (Alexandra, Dunedin & Oamaru branches NZSG, Oamaru Branch NZSG) [2013; 20 June 2019]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [9 April 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [20 June 2019]; Cemetery records [20 June 2019]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

TS

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