Monday, 24 July 2017

It’s been a long, long journey ......... the last bit of the George Davison story. .... 1886-1918

Now for a year and a bit I pretty much lived with George Davison and his family.

The memorial at Pozieres, 2017
He was born in Harpurhey in 1886 served with the Royal Artillery during the Great War and died in June 1918 on the Western Front.

Much of his life is recorded in what I now call the George Davison Collection which contains documents from his early life, the letters in wrote to his future wife and above all the letters and postcards he sent home while serving in the army.*

It is a remarkable collection and for me has a personal connection because for parts of the war he was stationed in Woolwich and may well have been billeted just a few doors away from where I grew up in Eltham in south east London.

George's letter of June 15 1918
And during the course of writing Manchester Remembering 1914-18 I drew on that collection including one of his last letters dated in the June of 1918 where he described his dug out “You would be surprised to see some of our living places – at present we have an excellent dug out about 20 feet below the surface. 

It has however two drawbacks – poor ventilation and only artificial (candle) light.
Compared to some it is a Palace.”**

And this was where he died on June 17 when the dugout received a direct.  All three men in the dug out were “killed instantly” and according to the Royal Engineers who inspected the position “it was not considered safe to recover the bodies.

The dug out was then filled in and is marked as the resting place of your brother in law and his comrade. ”***

Now I have read and reread those last few letters and they still have the power to move me.

I was prepared for the fact that he was killed but you can never quite shake off either the manner of the death or that the description in the letter of July 6.

The stone inscription, 2017
And today courtesy of Philippe Clerbout we have a picture of the memorial stone at the Pozieres Memorial where Mr Davison is recorded.

It was sent over to David Harrop who now owns the collection and closes the circle on Mr Davison and his family.

"Pozieres is a village 6 kilometres north-east of the town of Albert. The Memorial encloses Pozieres British Cemetery which is a little south-west of the village on the north side of the main road, D929, from Albert to Pozieres.

On the road frontage is an open arcade terminated by small buildings and broken in the middle by the entrance and gates. Along the sides and the back, stone tablets are fixed in the stone rubble walls bearing the names of the dead grouped under their Regiments.

It should be added that, although the memorial stands in a cemetery of largely Australian graves, it does not bear any Australian names. The Australian soldiers who fell in France and whose graves are not known are commemorated on the National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux."****

Picture; war memorial recording George Davison, courtesy of Philippe Clerbout and letter dated June 15 from the collection of David Harrop

*George Davison,

**Manchester Remembering 1914-18, Andrew Simpson, 2017, the History Press,

***extract of the letter sent to Bdn W.F.Evans, R.A.F, July 6 1918

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