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©2017 by Friends of St.Helens Cemetery.

Corporal John Thomas Davies VC

March 22, 2018

 From St.Helens Star - Online edition Sunday 18th March 2018

 

THE gravestone of one of St Helens' Victoria Cross heroes has been renovated to make it a "fitting" memorial to him.

Corporal John Thomas Davies, known as 'Jack', was awarded the VC for his outstanding bravery during the First World War.

Jack, was born on September 29, 1895 in Rock Ferry, Birkenhead, but grew up in St Helens and was one of the first to volunteer for the 'St Helens Pals'.

Having already been wounded twice during the Battle of Somme in 1916, and twice returning to active service, Jack was honoured for his actions near the village of Eppeville, France on March 24, 1918.

With the men of his battalion outflanked on both sides and in danger of being surrounded they were ordered to withdraw.

Corporal Davies, then 22, knew the only line of retreat lay through a deep stream lined with a belt of barbed wire and that it was imperative to hold up the enemy as long as possible.

His Victoria Cross citation noted: “He mounted the parapet, fully exposing himself, in order to get a more effective field of fire, and kept his Lewis gun in action to the last, causing the enemy many casualties and checking their advance.

“By his very great devotion to duty he enabled part of his company to get across the river, which they would otherwise have been unable to do, thus undoubtedly saving the lives of many of his comrades.

“When last seen this gallant N.C.O. was still firing his gun, with the enemy close on the top of him, and was in all probability killed at his gun.”

Ahead of the centenary of him being awarded the VC, the Friends of St Helens Cemetery organised for his headstone to be renovated, with JT Memorials undertaking the work.

And to mark the 100th anniversary of Jack's heroic actions, there will be a ceremony at the cenotaph at Victoria Square at noon on Friday, March 23 where relatives of Corporal Davies' will attend and then visit the graveside afterwards.

Corporal Davies is believed to be the only WWI soldier to have been awarded a posthumous VC while still alive as he was believed to have died at his gun when he had actually been taken prisoner.

Marlene Downey, of the Friends, said: "The headstone was in a really poor state, the inscription unreadable and certainly not fitting of this local hero.

"The Friends felt urgent renovation was needed and particularly now in this 100th anniversary year.

"The stone has now been relaid as good as new and fixed to modern safety standards. The stone mason also reset and fixed a memorial pot which is in front of the grave.

"Corporal Davies was a hero, the Victoria Cross is the highest honour in this country and we should make sure his memory is kept alive in St Helens."

For the 100th anniversary of Jack's heroic actions, there will be a ceremony at the cenotaph at Victoria Square at noon on Friday, March 23 where relatives of Corporal Davies' will attend and visit his graveside afterwards.

Corporal Davies is believed to be the only WWI soldier to have been awarded a posthumous VC while still alive as he was believed to have died at his gun when he had actually been taken prisoner.

 

Article written by Simon Milligan, Senior Reporter, St.Helens Star Online edition 18th March 2018.
Photographs as published with 'before' photo of grave added to this post.

 Renovated grave 

 Grave before renovation

 100 years on, his descendants and their families – as well as a number of representatives from the military and St Helens Council - gathered at a special ceremony at the Cenotaph in Victoria Square as the Mayor of St Helens, Councillor Joe Pearson, lifted a Union flag to uncover a commemorative paving stone in honour of Corporal John Davies VC’s valour.

 

 Paving stone unveiled at the St.Helens War Memorial to commemorate the anniversary of Cpl Davies being awarded the Victoria Cross

 

 

Illuminated scroll presented to Cpl Davies on behalf of the people of St.Helens for the honour he had brought to the town 

 

 

 

 

 Corporal Davies wearing his Victoria Cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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