DAVIS, Philip John
(Service number 10/2581)

First Rank Private Last Rank Sergeant


Date 13 March 1885 Place of Birth Waimate

Enlistment Information

Date 20 April 1915 Age 30 years 1 month
Address at Enlistment Takapau
Occupation Farmhand
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status Single
Next of Kin E. H. DAVIS (brother), Hinds, Canterbury. Initially John DAVIS (father), Westerfield(?), Ashburton
Religion Church of England
Medical Information Height 5 feet 10½ inches. Weight 12 stone 8 lbs. Chest measurement 35-38½ inches. Complexion dark. Eyes brown. Hair dark. Sight, hearing & colour vision all normal. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth - lost 4, rest good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects.

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation 6th Reinforcements
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Wellington Infantry Battalion
Date 14 August 1915
Transport Willochra
Embarked From Wellington Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Balkan (Gallipoli); Egyptian; Egyptian Expeditionary Force; Western European (France)
Service Medals 1914-1915 Star; 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 13 April 1919 Reason On the termination of his period of engagement.

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

16 June 1915 – 18 June 1915 at Trentham Camp Hospital - with influenza. 5 May 1916 admitted to No. 7 General Hospital, France; 26 May 1916 discharged to duty. 18 July 1917 admitted, sick, to No. 3 New Zealand Field Ambulance, then to the Venereal hospital at Rouen. 21 July 1917 admitted to 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station (V.D.G.), France. 26 July 1917 admitted to 51st General Hospital (V.D.G.) at Etaples, France. 23 October 1917 discharged from 51st General Hospital to Base Depot, France. 25 October 1917 admitted to 24 General Hospital – piles mild. 11 November 1917 transferred from 24 General Hospital to 6th Convalescent Depot. 20 December 1917 transferred from No. 6 to No. 5 Convalescent Depot. 16 January 1918 discharged to Base Depot, France. June 1918 joined battalion from hospital, sick. 6 October 1918 to hospital, sick, admitted firstly to Field Ambulance then to Casualty Clearing Station. 8 October 1918 he was suffering with urethritis, admitted to 51st General Hospital (V.D.G.) at Etaples. 16 October 1918 attached to NZ Infantry from hospital (sick). 8 December 1918 discharged from 51st General Hospital (V.D.G.), France.

Post-war Occupations

Contractor; mill-hand


Date 17 April 1950 Age 65 years
Place of Death Oamaru Public Hospital, Oamaru
Notices Otago Daily Times. 19 April 1950
Memorial or Cemetery Cremated Andersons Bay Crematorium, Dunedin
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Philip John Davis was born on 13 March 1885 at Waimate, the fifth son of John and Ann (née Morgan) Davis, and a brother of Archie Davis. John and Ann married in 1870 in Oxfordshire, England. In June 1874, John and Ann and their first-born Ann, arrived at Timaru by the “Peeress”. Also among the immigrants were Samuel and Eliza and family – James, Rose, Sylvia and William, Arthur Morgan and wife Mary. Samuel and Eliza were the parents of Ann Emily Davis; Arthur, James, Rosa, Sylvia and William her brothers and sisters. Sadly, little Ann died in August 1874, aged 11 months, in the Waimate district where the family settled and where eight more children were born. Philip was educated at Waimate School along with his older siblings and at Waihao Native School, transferring there in May 1893. Philip left school for home in March 1899. In the early 1900s the family moved to Hunter. A clearing sale was held at Morven in April 1902, Mr John Davis’s lease having expired. He took up the lease of a farm at Orari in 1909, when he held a clearing sale at his farm at Hunter. Probably he transferred the Orari lease in 1911. Ann Emily Davis died on 22 July 1915 at the Belfield residence of her son-in-law and was buried at Geraldine.

Philip John Davis was a farm hand at Takapau when he enlisted on 20 April 1915 at Trentham and was posted to the Wellington Infantry Battalion. Single and of Church of England affiliation, he named his brother as next-of-kin – Mr E. H. Davis, Hinds Canterbury. He had initially named his father – John Davis, Westerfield, Ashburton, but this was soon changed. He was 5 feet 10½ inches tall, weighed 12 stone 8 pounds, and had a chest measurement of 35-38½ inches. His complexion was dark, his eyes brown and his hair dark. His sight, hearing, colour vision, heart and lungs were all normal, his limbs and chest well formed. He had lost 4 teeth, but the rest were good. Vaccinated and free from diseases, he was in good bodily and mental health. In June 1915, Philip Davis spent a few days at Trentham Camp Hospital with influenza.

Private P. J. Davis embarked with the Wellington Infantry Battalion of the 6th Reinforcements, departing from Wellington on 14 August 1915 per the “Willochra”. He joined his battalion at Mudros on 30 September 1915. It was on 27 December 1915 that he disembarked at Alexandria. On 3 March 1916 at Ismailia he was promoted to the rank of corporal, and just over five weeks later he embarked at Alexandria for France per the “Knight of Garter”. Frequent hospital admissions punctuated Philip’s service. On 5 May 1916 he was admitted to No. 7 General Hospital in France. Discharged to duty three weeks later, he rejoined his battalion on 28 May. In France, on 26 August 1916, he was appointed temporary sergeant and immediately promoted to sergeant. P. J. Davis was admitted, sick, to No. 3 New Zealand Field Ambulance on 18 July 1917, then to the Venereal hospital at Rouen. Three days later he was admitted to the 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station (V.D.G.), France, and after five more days was admitted to 51st General Hospital (V.D.G.) at Etaples, France.

23 October 1917 discharged from the 51st General Hospital to Base Depot, France, and attached to Strength. But, on 25 October 1917 he was admitted to 24 General Hospital with mild piles. He was transferred from 24 General Hospital to 6th Convalescent Depot on 11 November 1917 and further transferred from No. 6 to No. 5 Convalescent Depot on 20 December. 16 January 1918 saw him discharged to Base depot, France, and attached to Strength.

On 28 June 1918 Sergeant Davis was transferred to No. 1 New Zealand Entrenching Battalion, joining the battalion from hospital where he was sick via Base. On 28 August 1918 he went on leave to the UK, rejoining his unit on 14 September. He went again to hospital, sick, on 6 October 1918, admitted firstly to the Field Ambulance then to the Casualty Clearing Station. As of 8 October 1918, he was suffering with urethritis and was admitted to 51st General Hospital (V.D.G.) at Etaples. He was reposted to the Wellington Infantry Regiment on 16 October 1918, attached to the New Zealand Infantry from hospital (sick). On 7 December 1918 he was discharged to Base Depot, France, and on 8 December 1918 discharged from the 51st General Hospital (V.D.G.) to duty.

Sergeant P. J. Davis, 10/2581, returned to New Zealand by the “Hororata”, embarking at London on 1 February 1919 and arriving on 15 March 1919. Returning Draft No. 221 brought home 1500 survivors of the Main Body and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Reinforcements. He was discharged on 13 April 1919 on the termination of his term of engagement. He had served for close to four years, at Gallipoli and in Egypt and France, and was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. An application by P. J. Davis under the Discharged Soldiers’ Settlement Act in mid-1919 was refused by the Land Board (Southland). By August 1920, Philip was at Balfour, Southland. He married Florence Emma Hayes in 1920. Philip was a contractor at Waikaia for some years, moving to Lumsden in the 1930s and to Waitahuna in the later 1930s.

In December 1924, a tender by P. J. Davis for McKenzie Road, Waikaia, was accepted by the Southland County Council. Others for maintenance, forming and gravelling of roads followed regularly in 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, and January 1931. A sorry saga unfolded when a meeting of creditors in the bankrupt estate of Philip John Davis, contractor, Waikaia, was held in the Gore Magistrate’s Court on 10 September 1931. “In his original statement bankrupt stated that on returning from the war he bought some horses and harness and commenced contracting at both farm and county work and carried on with a fair measure of success. He was able to pay his way and increase his plant as he went along. Early in 1929 he took on a big county contract at Riversdale and struck trouble through bad weather. He had to cease work when half completed and was only paid 50 per cent. of his earnings. However, he still carried on and made headway until July, 1930, and from then on through continuous bad weather his earnings were £l40 short for the season and further from 1929 until June of the present year, he lost four horses. Then in the middle of July of the present year he found he was unable to obtain his usual run of work through the depression and now had been idle for five months. He had his plant, but his position was such that he could not pay his creditors in full and as he had no prospects of work and it was expensive to keep the team, he decided it would be best to sell everything. He therefore held a clearing sale through the National Mortgage Company on the arrangement that the whole of the proceeds of the sale were to be available for distribution among his creditors. The sale, however, was disappointing and in addition one of the horses could not be put into the sale and subsequently died. On receiving the result of the sale he called a meeting of his creditors, but as a result of the meeting and pressure from creditors, he decided to file. AU his assets were accounted for in the statement and he could make no further offer as he was not in work and saw no prospect of work. Continuing his statement bankrupt said he was a married man with a family of five children ranging in age from one to ten. He rented a house at Waikaia for 12/6 a week. He had been out of this house for about a month. He had about £l00 capital to commence with and this was all put into plant. All work done was with horses and drays. No books were kept in connection with his business, but all his receipts went into his bank book. In 1929 he was solvent and could have paid all his debts. That year he took over a contract for £320 with the Southland County Council, but there was trouble over it and he only completed half of it owing to bad weather. He lost the contract, receiving quarter of the contract price. The last county contract paid him fairly well. In 1930 he was £l30 short for the whole season and from May of this year he had been unable to get any work at all. It was the Riversdale contract which had put him so far back. About the beginning of June, he attempted to sell some horses as he wanted to pay wages owing. He put up two horses, but they were not sold. He then arranged with the National Mortgage to hold a sale of his stock and plant. After the first sale he sent an order to the National Mortgage Co. for fodder amounting to £20. The second sale was held at the beginning of August, realizing £156. No arrangement was made with the company to pay off any money owing to it. The company held £55 to cover the amount of its account. . . . . . . The official assignee stated that the bank pass book showed that £469 was paid into the bank in 1929, £650 in 1930, and £346 in 1931. To the assignee bankrupt stated that he drew money from the bank for household requirements when necessary. He did not file earlier as he did not know until July that he was not going to get further work. When he held the clearing sale he told the manager of the National Mortgage Co. that he was selling out because he could not carry on. He told him that he would not come out square, but did not say how much he was indebted. The meeting was adjourned sine die.” Discharge in bankruptcy was granted to Philip John Davis, of Waikaia, contractor, on 9 November 1932.

In the early 1940s Philip and Florence moved to Milton where he took employment at the mill. Corporal P. J. Davis was connected with the NZRAF in World War Two. It was only shortly before Philip’s death that they moved to Oamaru. Florence remained there until her death in 1978. Their eldest daughter (Forrest) was married at the Milton Methodist Church in December 1943. Their twin daughter (Shirley) was engaged to a serviceman in March 1944 and married in 1946. Jean, twin daughter, was engaged to a serviceman in July 1944, but married another at the Oamaru Catholic Church in 1951. Fourth daughter Rae married at the Milton Presbyterian Church in September 199, when her parents were still living in Milton. When the engagement of their only son, John Morgan, was announced in December 1949, Mrs and Mrs P. J. Davis were resident in Oamaru. John married in 1950. The engagement of their youngest daughter, Barbara Ann, was announced in November 1950; she married at the Oamaru Catholic Church in 1952. Philip John Davis died at the Oamaru Public Hospital (late of Milton) on 17 April 1950, aged 65 years. He was cremated at Andersons Bay Crematorium, Dunedin. His ashes may be held in the Niche Wall at Andersons Bay with his wife’s. Florence Emma Davis died on 8 May 1978 at the Oamaru Public Hospital and was cremated at Andersons Bay. Philip was survived by his wife, five daughters (Forrest, twins Jean and Shirley, Rae, Barbara) and one son (John Morgan Davis). Their first child was stillborn; little Madge died in 1923 at two months; and little Philip died in 1927 at six days. By his Will dated 31 January 1950, Philip bequeathed the whole of his estate to his wife Florence Emma Davis absolutely. His son John Morgan Davis provided an affidavit of death. By her Will (dated 9 November 1950), Florence Emma Davis directed that her remains be cremated and her ashes be intermingled with those of her late husband Phillip John Davis at the Andersons Bay Crematorium. She bequeathed her estate to her children equally – Forrest Jenkinson, Shirley McKinney, Jean Davis, John Morgan Davis, Rae Carr and Barbara Ann Davis.

Philip’s brother, Charles Edward Davis of Fairlie, was drawn in the Ballot in December 1917. Having three children, he claimed to be in Class D, and his claim was allowed. His next-of-kin brother, Ernest Henry Davis, was listed on the Reserve Rolls, a farm manager at Hinds with three children. His brother, Archie Davis, did serve in World War One, he too naming his brother Ernest as next-of-kin. Five cousins of Philip and Archie lost their lives in World War One – James Matthew Morgan was killed in action in France in 1918; William Stanley Morgan was also killed in action in France in 1918; Archie Morgan was killed in action in Belgium in 1917; William George Loomes was killed in action in Belgium in 1917; Wilhelm (William) Seyb was killed in action in France in 1916. Other cousins who are known to have served were Robert Loomes, Harold Loomes and Archie Morgan Loomes; Bernhardt (Bernard) Seyb and Henry Michael Seyb; Cyril Barton Morgan.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [11 September 2016]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ ref. AABK 18805 W5537 0032501) [09 October 2016] ; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [11 September 2016]; School Admission records (Waimate Branch NZSG) [11 September 2016]; Andersons Bay Crematorium records (Dunedin City Council) [11 September 2016]; NZ Electoral Rolls ( [11 September 2016; 07 October 2016; 18 July 2023]; Timaru Herald, 19 June 1874, 23 July 1915, 5 March 1919, 26 July 1924, Evening Post, 3 March 1919, Sun, 4 March 1919, Ashburton Guardian, 4 March 1919, 26 November 1927 [x 2], Press, 4 March 1919, Star, 4 March 1919, NZ Times, 4 March 1919, Southland Times, 10 December 1924, 11 September 1931, 10 November 1932, Otago Daily Times, 24 December 1943, 1 April 1944, 15 July 1944, 21 July 1948, 22 October 1949, 2 December 1949, 19 April 1950, 7 November 1950 (Papers Past) [29 September 2022; 13 & 18 July 2023]; Probate records (Archives NZ Collections – Record numbers 0851/50 & 233/1978) [18 July 2023]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC Genealogy Society

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