5 January 2019

42151 Pte Thomas Davies, 11th South Wales Borderers

I recently posted information about the Herefordshire Regiment and enlistment dates for regimental numbers between 1908 and December 1914. In that post I referred to a Herefordshire Regiment man whom I had come across whilst researching another Herefordshire soldier. That man was Thomas Davies and this is his story. 

The first image that appears in Thomas Davies's file in series WO 364 is that of a Field Medical Card dated 24th February 1917. It notes, "42151 Pte Davies, T, 11th South Wales Borderers; amputation of left leg below knee, multiple small wounds, right ankle & toe. GSW rifle grenade." The card is stamped by the 131st Field Ambulance, the reverse detailing the amount of morphia doses given to Thomas, and the times these were administered. 

In actual fact, Thomas would also lose his right leg the same day. A report in his file dated the 20th August 1917 reads, "Rifle grenade wounds. Both legs amputated Feb 24th 1917, Ypres. Had left leg blown off and right leg badly mangled. Right leg amputated at [46] CCS [Casualty Clearing Station] and left stump repaired. Arrived here [Military Hospital, Herne Bay] March 21st via Boulogne [13 General Hospital, Rouen]. On April 10 right leg was re-amputated below knee. May 1, the left leg was re-amputated at upper thigh, wounds healed. General condition good." Thomas, left with a six inch stump on his left leg, was still only 19 years old. 

He was supplied with artificial Blatchford prosthetics (a Blatchford No 2 for his left leg and a Blatchford No 5 for his right leg). The image at the head of this post is from the Blatchford Group website, the company still developing artificial limbs today. 

Thomas was awarded a 100% disability pension for life. In 1918 this amounted to 21 shillings a week and by 1932 this had risen to 40 shillings a week. A claim that year for an additional payment for a carer was rejected; a note in his file reports, "Is able to do everything for himself but doesn't like going out without an escort." 

Thomas Davies was the younger brother of Aaron Davies, and when the 1911 Census was taken he was living with Aarion and his wife Beatrice and their two young children at Pentilcoch, Tregoyd, Three Cocks, Breconshire. Three years later, with Britain at war, he enlisted with the 2/1st Herefordshire Regiment on the 14th October 1914 aged 17 years and four months. He proceeded overseas on the 27th July 1916 and after treading water at an infantry base depot at Rouen for a month, was posted to the 2/4th Battalion, South Wales Borderers on the 24th August 1916, and subsequently posted to the 11th Battalion. It was whilst serving with this battalion that he sustained what we would term today, life-changing injuries. 

I would be interested to know what happened to Thomas Davies after he left the army. He had been employed by the Honourable Robert Charles Devereux (17th Viscount Hereford) of Tregoyd and a note in his file after he had received his injuries states that Viscount Devereux had indicated that he would continue to employ him. In what capacity is unknown, however, and the detail about his pre-war employment is not recorded on his attestation papers. Viscount Hereford's son, Robert Godfrey de Bohun Devereux, had also been wounded whilst serving with the Welsh Guards.

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