Skip to main content
Twixt Branding

Return to search

Walter Davies

Date of birth: 1889
Date of death: 3.5.1917
Area: Outwood
Regiment: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Husband of Eva Née Smith
Rank: Private
Service number: 201369

War Service

Due to the absence of his service record it is not clear whether Walter enlisted, or was conscripted, into the army during the First World War. However, he was posted to the 2/4th Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, which recruited men from the Normanton, Wakefield, Dewsbury and Morley districts. The 2/4th Battalion remained in the United Kingdom for almost two years, before joining the British Expeditionary Force in France, on 13th January 1917. The 2/4th Battalion, along with the 2/5th KOYLI, formed part of the 187th Brigade, 62nd Division.
After a month of railway construction work and trench familiarisation exercises, on the 20th February, the 187th Brigade went into the line, with the 2/4th KOYLI in reserve at Mailly Wood East. The weather was very bad and ground conditions atrocious, such that relief from the front line duties was taking place after 48 hours.
The German Army was now showing signs of retiring from this section of the line and, on 25th February, the Brigade began a forward movement, towards Puisieux and Beauregard Dovecot. The 2/4th KOYLI was in support of an attack by 2/5th KOYLI, east of Serre.
The Battle of Arras started on the 9th April 1917, with the 2/4th KOYLI in reserve. However, the battalion was not required and spent the rest of the month between tours in the line and practising for the planned attack at Bullecourt.
During the evening of 2nd May, the 187th Brigade suffered casualties from enemy artillery fire, when assembling for the attack and as a consequence, assembled short of the planned line. At 03.45 hours on 3rd May, the creeping barrage commenced, but on reaching the enemy lines, the assault troops found much of the enemy wire was still intact. The KOYLI battalions were ordered forward, and some groups succeeded in going through the wire into the first trench, but were driven out of the second trench by enemy bombers. Other groups reached the front line, but could not penetrate the wire and had to seek shelter in shell holes and hold the first trench. To maintain their positions, the assaulting troops were supplied with ammunition by 2/4th KOYLI, delivering across "No Man's Land". A second attack was made at 21.00 hours, by stragglers and men from 2/4th and 2/5th KOYLI, but this attack was stopped by heavy enemy fire. 
The 2/4th KOYLI incurred 130 casualties during these attacks, one of whom was Private Walter Davies, a victim of enemy shellfire on the 3rd May 1917. His body was never identified, and his name is remembered on the Arras Memorial, France. The Memorial commemorates the 35000 servicemen of the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand, who lost their lives between the Spring of 1916 and August 1918 and who have no known grave.
Private Walter Davies is also remembered on Wrenthorpe Colliery War Memorial, in the grounds of St John’s Church, Wakefield.

Family Life

Walter Davies was born during the summer of 1889, the son of Henry and Maria Davies of Flanshaw Lane, Wakefield. His father, Henry Davies was born in London, but his job as a railway guard, moved him about the country. The family had only recently moved to the Wakefield area, having lived in Todmorden. The family remained in the Wakefield area and for a time lived at No.14 Morton Parade. On leaving school, Walter Davies obtained work at Wrenthorpe Colliery and was eventually employed as a coal miner - hewer. On 22nd March 1913, Walter Davies married Eva Smith of Princess Avenue, Outwood, at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood. After their marriage, Walter and Eva lived at Steel’s Buildings, Leeds Road, Outwood.

Arras Memorial Arras Memorial

Return to search