DAVISON, William
(Service number 16080)

Aliases Bill
First Rank Trooper Last Rank Trooper


Date 9 February 1893 Place of Birth Timaru

Enlistment Information

Date 10 March 1916 Age 23 years
Address at Enlistment Southburn
Occupation Farm labourer
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin Mrs H. P. MOYLE (sister), Saint Andrew's, South Canterbury
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information Height 5 feet 7 inches. Weight 131 lbs. Weight 31-36 inches. Chest measurement 31-36 inches. Complexion between dark and fair. Eyes blue. Hair brown. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing good. Colour vision correct. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. No illnesses. No distinctive marks indicating congenital peculiarities or previous disease. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Never off work through sickness or accident.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Expeditionary Force
Unit, Squadron, or Ship 15th Reinforcements New Zealand Mounted Rifles
Date 26 July 1916
Transport Ulimaroa
Embarked From Wellington Destination Devonport, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Otago Mounted Rifles

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals British War Medal; Victory Medal
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

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


Date 21 July 1919 Reason On the termination of his period of engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Driver, carter/carrier, traveller


Date 10 July 1975 Age 82 years
Place of Death Talbot Hospital, Timaru
Notices Timaru Herald, 11 July 1975
Memorial or Cemetery Cremated Salisbury Park, Timaru
Memorial Reference Memorial Plaque
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

William Davison, known as Bill, was born on 9 March 1893 at Timaru, the third son of James and Sarah (née Youdale) Davison. On marrying Bill gives his birthplace as Southburn. James, senior, came from Northern Ireland and married English-born Sarah Youdale on 27 May 1886. They settled at Southburn where James farmed. Seven children were born to James and Sarah – five sons and two daughters. All but the youngest, who was born in 1908, were educated at Southburn School. The Southburn School annual picnic in late December 1904 was held at Holme Station, there being a lengthy programme of sports and a bountiful of refreshments. A prize for proficiency was awarded to each child by the committee. W. Davison was also the recipient of a special arithmetic prize. William was re-admitted to Southburn after spending 1906 at home. He left school when he was going on fifteen. Henry Gilford Davison was admitted to Waimairi School in September 1916, by which time Mr James Davison was living at 421 Papanui Road, Christchurch. His last day was 14 April 1918 when he was “absent from home”. Their father held a clearing sale at Southburn in August 1916 and he and Sarah moved to Christchurch. All their older children had left the family home some years before. The oldest son, Alexander Hugh Davison of Southburn, married on 3 November 1915 in the Bank Street Methodist Church at Timaru.

William’s address on enlistment on 10 March 1916 at Featherston was Southburn. He was a farm labourer for J. Scott, Southburn, single and Presbyterian, and he named his sister as next-of-kin – Mrs H. P. Moyle, St Andrews, Timaru, South Canterbury. All three brothers who enlisted (William, George and James) named their sister Ethel as next-of-kin. Ethel Amy Davison married Hercules Paul Moyle on 12 May 1915 at Trinity Church, Timaru. He stated that he had previously been rejected as unfit for the military forces of the Crown, but the cause was unknown. He was 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighed 131 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 31-36 inches. His complexion was between dark and fair, his eyes blue and his hair brown. His sight, hearing and colour vision were all good, his limbs and chest well formed, and his heart and lungs normal. He had had no illnesses, diseases or fits, was vaccinated, and had never been off work through sickness or accident. A man in good bodily and mental health. He was inoculated against typhoid on 26 July 1916 at Featherston and in August on the troopship.

Trooper W. Davison, 16080, and his brother, Trooper G. Davison, 16079, embarked together with the New Zealand Mounted Rifles of the 15th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington for Devonport, England, on 26 July 1916 per the “Ulimaroa”. They disembarked at Devonport on 28 September and marched into Sling. Trooper Davison marched out from Tidworth for Sling on 23 October 1916 and then from Sling Camp to proceed overseas on 30 October, marching into Base Depot at Etaples two days later. He was posted to the Otago Mounted Rifles in the Field on 21 May 1917. After another transfer in August 1917, he was again transferred to the Otago Mounted Rifles Squadron on 3 June 1918. He enjoyed a period of leave in the UK in November-December 1918. It was March 1919 when he was sent from France to the Demobilization Centre in the UK. All was good at his medical examination at Codford. From his personnel file, William Davison seems not to have been too troubled while at the Front, but the SCRoll attachment from Alan McKenzie for George & William Davison relates the sad effect of his brother George’s death on William.

W. Davison, 16080, of St Andrews, returned to New Zealand for demobilization, one of 1128 soldiers aboard the “Maunganui”, leaving on 17 May 1919 and arriving at Wellington on 24 June 1919. Trooper W. Davison and three comrades were welcomed home in the Southburn School in early July 1919. The chairman of the local Patriotic Society expressed the pleasure of the residents to see them back safe and well. “He assured his hearers that while welcoming home those who had come through the war, those of our boys who had made the supreme sacrifice were especially held in affectionate remembrance by all, and he wished to extend the deepest sympathy of the district to the relatives of these.” In presenting medals to the returned men, Mr Anstey, M.P. for Waitaki, “expressed his pleasure at being present to welcome home any of the New Zealand boys, sons of pioneers, who with duty done as theirs had been were worthy of all honour, . . . . . They had helped to bring about the worlds’ peace.” He called on the secretary of the Ladies’ Patriotic Guild to fasten the medals on the breasts of the returned soldiers. After the singing of “Soldiers of the King” and “They are Jolly Good Fellows,” and hearty cheers for the guests of the evening, the National Anthem closed this part of the evening’s proceedings. The usual bountiful supper was supplied by the ladies of the district, after which dancing was continued.

Discharged on 21 July 1919 on the termination of his period of engagement, he intended to go to his sister, Mrs H. P. Moyle at Lyalldale, Timaru. He had served for nearly three years in the Western European campaign, for which he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. Initially, William returned to farm work at Southburn. William married Ann Grace Drake (known as Grace) on 12 October 1920 at St Mary’s, Timaru. Their son, Francis William Davison, was born on 6 August 1921 at Whare Nana, Timaru. In 1922 William and Grace were living in Timaru, he recorded as a returned soldier. They spent the remainder of their lives in Timaru, living at various addresses, and William working as a driver or carter and later a traveller. In June 1926, he applied to the Timaru Borough Council for a carter’s licence which was granted. His carrier licence was renewed regularly throughout the 1930s. At the annual meeting of the Timaru Master Carriers Association at the beginning of December 1937, William was elected to the committee. He was empanelled on a jury to rule on a burglary charge on 5 May 1937. He was selected again the next day as the jury had failed to reach a verdict.

“The circumstances disclose a very serious case,” remarked the Magistrate, on 16 November 1939, in convicting and imposing a fine on a defendant who did not appear to answer a charge of having negligently driven a motor-car on the Timaru-Beaconsfield road on September 25. The “defendant had driven a motor car up the Salisbury gully on the Timaru-Beaconsfield road on his incorrect side and had collided head-on with a two and a half ton truck driven by William Davison, a cartage contractor. The car had been completely wrecked, and the truck had been damaged to the extent of £60. . . . . the driver of the truck escaped injury, William Davison, cartage contractor, said that the accident had occurred on the brow of the hill. Witness had seen the car approaching as he turned a bend when his speed was between 20 and 25 miles an hour. The car which was over on the wrong side of the road had collided head-on with the truck. Witness had practically stopped but he had had no hope of avoiding a collision.” In January 1940, W. Davison, Timaru, was granted additional authority for general goods in the borough by the Transport Licensing Authority. At the July 1942 review of goods-service licences, the 30-mile extension in regard to the carriage of furniture was revoked for W. Davison (Timaru). The following month William Davison, transport operator, appealed on behalf of one of his lorry drivers before the Armed Services Board. Another appeal for a driver, in December 1942, was adjourned sine die without hearing, the medical grading of the applicant not being of the standard required for service. His own appeal – seeking exemption from Home Guard Service - had been adjourned sine die in October.

1918 had been a traumatic year for the Davison family, William being overseas throughout. Fortunately, James, junior, and his siblings seemed to have been quite a close-knit lot. On 17 December 1917, George Davison, the fourth son and late of Southburn, near Timaru, was killed in action in France, aged 22 years. James (senior) and Sarah were then living at 421 Papanui Road, Christchurch. Margaret Cicely (Ciss) Davison, the younger daughter of James and Sarah, died on 1 December 1918 at the Timaru Hospital, aged 19 years. A probationer nurse, she was a victim of the influenza epidemic. In Memoriam notices for Cicely and George were inserted in the Timaru Herald on 1 December 1919 and 1 December 1920. But, in August 1918, an unusual court case broke in Christchurch. Sarah Davison, wife of James Davison, of Christchurch, farmer, sought a judicial separation from her husband who was some ten years older, after 32 years of marriage. Sarah alleged cruelty and “had been literally a bond slave”, said her legal representative. A lot was revealed that had been hidden for so many years. They had lived in poor circumstances for some years, but the financial position improved when James won £1000 in Tattersalls in 1906. He took a trip to England with his daughter. On his return, his demeanour changed for the worse, it was alleged. He stopped the family from going to church, he abused his wife verbally, and he confined her to the house. She had an especially difficult time in December 1908 when she gave birth to a son and relied heavily on her sister for support. Her husband’s unkindness continued. In November 1909, her sons left home after a quarrel with their father. After Hercules Moyle asked to marry their daughter Ethel in about 1911, James would not speak to Ethel. Soon after he quarrelled with his third son (William), who left the home. Sarah had to be protected by the children, while James said that he would be the only “boss” in the home. James became more violent and threatening and tried to alienate those still in the home and those who had left. When George and William enlisted, he gave orders that they were not to be welcomed or received when on final leave. He was not on speaking terms with any of his five eldest children. So, during their time on leave from camp they stayed with their sister. When George was killed in December 1917, he would not allow mourning to be purchased, so Sarah purchased it from a legacy she had received on her mother’s death in 1917. That legacy, too, had caused friction. After another dispute in February 1918, Sarah and the children (Cicely and Henry) left the home and did not return. It was moral, mental and emotional cruelty, not physical cruelty. For 12 years it was a most unhappy household. The upshot was that legal cruelty was established, His Honour granting a decree of judicial separation, making an order giving custody of the youngest child (Harry) to the mother and granting costs. Thereafter Sarah Davison lived at Pleasant Point where her eldest son and family resided, while James remained at his Christchurch abode.

In April 1923, James Davison, senior, and Annie Wilkinson, a widow, travelled to Vancouver, Canada, and the USA, to see a friend (of Annie). Their contact person in the USA was J. Davison, brother and friend respectively. They had been living together in Christchurch. The Timaru Herald of 10 August 1926 carried the following death notice – DAVISON. – On August 2, at Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A., James Davison, late of Southburn. A headstone in Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio, is inscribed thus – James Davison 1854 – 1926 He is great who is what he is from nature and who never reminds us of others. James and Annie had returned to New Zealand, marrying on 28 January 1926. James signed a Will on 13 April 1926 at Christchurch. He directed his trustee to erect a suitable headstone over his grave, the cost not to exceed £200; he also bequeathed £50 to the controlling authority of the cemetery of his burial, the interest to be used to keep his grave in repair for such time as was allowed by law. He bequeathed to his wife, Annie Davison, his dwelling house in Edward Avenue, Christchurch, together with all furniture and household effects, also £5000. Other bequests were £200 each to his sons Hugh Alexander Davison, James Davison, William Davison, and to his daughter Ethel Amy Davison, and £1500 plus his gold watch and chain to his son Harry Gilford Davison. Further bequests were made to the children of his late brother Abram or Abraham Davison who were living in Portadown, Ireland; to the daughter of his late sister Lily Abraham who was living in America; to the son of his brother John Davison who was living at Cleveland, United States of America; to his brother George Andrew Davion who was living at Toronto, Canada, and to George’s family. Most of these bequests were larger than those left to his own children. In addition, he left £1000 to the church he attended near Portadown before leaving Ireland. “I have not made fuller provision for any of my family for the reason that I consider their conduct has not warranted my making any greater provision in their favour.” Annie had been present at James’ funeral at Cleveland, returning afterwards to Christchurch, where she died in October 1940. All was not well with James’ Will. Initially, many questions were posed with regard to interpretation of aspects of this “home-made will”. His Honor gave his judgment a month later (August 1927). In March 1928, In March 1928, the property situated Southburn, South Canterbury, was sold by public auction on account of the trustee in the estate of James Davison, deceased. His sons - Hugh Alexander Davison, farm labourer, Pleasant Point, James Davison, farm manager, Timaru, and William Davison, carrier, Timaru - and daughter - Ethel Amy Moyle, married, St Andrews - proceeded under the Family Protection Act, seeking further provision out of his estate. The estate had been somewhat diminished upon realisation, notably because of the mortgage on the farm property. It was ruled that the testator had failed to provide them with adequate maintenance and an order was made that an additional £300 be paid to each of them. An application by Annie Davison for an increase in her provision was dismissed.

Meanwhile, Sarah Davison, late of Southburn, died suddenly on 16 September 1925 at her Pleasant Point residence. Her funeral left her son William’s Timaru residence for the Timaru Cemetery where she was buried with her daughter Cicely. George, too, is remembered on their gravestone. Sarah made specific provision for the maintenance, education, advancement and benefit of her son Henry Gilford until he reached the age of twenty-one, and for an equal distribution to her children. Henry Davison had a stint at Pleasant Point School in 1924 before going farming. Their “dear mother, Sarah Davison,” was remembered in 1926 – “To Memory Ever Dear.”

William Davidson died on 10 July 1975 at Talbot Hospital, Timaru, aged 82 years. He was cremated at Salisbury Park, where his wife Grace had been cremated nine months before. Timaru RSA members were requested to attend the service of their late comrade at the Crematorium. Bill was survived by his son, Wing Commander Frank Davison, his daughter-in-law and four grandchildren, who lived in Adelaide, Australia. By his Will dated 1952, Bill Davidson left all upon Trust for his wife, Ann Grace Davison, and in the event of her predeceasing him, for his son Francis William Davison. His nephew, George Guildford Davidson, provided verification of his abode and death.

His brother George Davison was killed in action in 1917 in Belgium, while his brother James Davison enlisted but was ruled out as medically unfit.

Francis William Davison, the only son of William and Grace, served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force in World War Two. Frank, as he was known, was educated at Timaru south School and Timaru Boys’ High School. In July 1941 he was appointed a Pilot Officer. In October Mr and Mrs W. Davison, King Street, received cabled advice that their son, Pilot Officer F. Davison, had arrived safely in England. He was appointed Flying Officer in 1942 and Flight Lieutenant in 1943. Frank married Beatrice Ethel Dagger (known as Betty) in 1943 in Surrey, England. By December 1944, Squadron Leader F. W. Davison of Timaru was flight commander of a squadron operating from an airfield in North-west Europe, having returned to his squadron for a second tour. Patrolling over Germany, the squadron had shot down 57 enemy aircraft. He was Mentioned in Despatches. Squadron Leader and Mrs F. W. Davison (Timaru) were among the R.N.Z.A.F. personnel and dependents who arrived at Auckland in September 1945. For the next few years, Frank and Betty lived in Timaru, taking a trip Home for the birth of their first child in 1947. In 1949, they and their son travelled to the United States. RAF Flight Officer Davison and his wife and child were living in New Jersey in 1950. Francis William Davison was recognised in the 1988 Australia Day Honours for service to people with intellectual disabilities. Frank died on 17 July 2009 and was cremated at Passadena, South Australia. Betty died in 2017. The Timaru Herald obituary for Francis William Davison is attached to William’s SCRoll profile. William’s nephew, George Guildford Davison, served with the Navy in World War Two. Henry Gilford Davison, the youngest child of James and Sarah, was drawn in a World War Two Ballot, as was another nephew, Leslie William Davison.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [29 May 2014]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0032605) [07 July 2016]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [30 May 2014]; Timaru Herald, 5 January 1905, 24 May 1915, 8 January 1918, 18 May 1918, 2 December 1918, 16 June 1919, 8 July 1919, 1 December 1919, 1 December 1920, 8 August 1921, 17 & 18 September 1925, 29 June 1926, 10 August 1926, 14 & 16 September 1926, 20 & 24 April 1928, 27 July 1934, 6 & 7 May 1937, 3 December 1937, 17 November 1939, 19 January 1940, 7 October 1941, 28 July 1942, 13 August 1942, 17 October 1942, 16 December 1942, 7 December 1944, 15 September 1945, Sun, 27 & 28 August 1918, 16 June 1919, Lyttelton Times, 7 January 1918, NZ Truth, 7 September 1918, Star, 2 December 1918, 12 July 1927, 15 August 1927, 29 March 1928, NZ Times, 14 June 1919, Press, 7 October 1940 (Papers Past) [30 May 2014; 11 August 2014; 07 April 2015; July 2021; 01, 02 & 04 January 2023]; Salisbury Park Crematorium records & plaque inscriptions (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [16 October 2014]; Salisbury Park plaque image (South Canterbury Crematorium ( [06 January 2023]; Timaru Herald, 11 July 1975 (Timaru District Library) 16 October 2014]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG [2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [02 January 2023]; Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, headstone image & record (Find A Grave) [02 January 2023]; Probate records (Family Search/Archives NZ) [02 January 2023]; Probate record (Archives NZ Collections) [04 January 2023]; St Mary’s marriage record (South Canterbury Branch NZSG records) [15 January 2023]

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