Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Revealing an untold story from the Great War ....... June 17th 1918

George, Nellie and their son Duncan, 1916
“At about midday a direct hit over the chamber caused the portion of the dugout in which Bombardier Davison and others of the detachment were resting, to smash in.

Bombardier Davison and 2 others were instantly killed and another man unconscious, died a few minutes afterwards”.*

I think Mrs Davison would have taken some comfort from the letter, sent by Captain Livington, describing the loss of her husband on June 17th 1918, for as stark and awful as the news was, at least it offered some detail which was missing from the official communication from the War Department.

Only days before she had received a series of letters from her husband, which described the dugout and filled her in on his movements around the front line.

The letters are part of a huge collection he sent back to his wife from 1915 through to 1918.  Those for the final months of 1914 and all of 1917 are missing but the remainder are a powerful insight into his time in the army.

Extract from Captain Livington's letter, 1918
I read them back in 2016, and even though I knew he was killed I was not prepared for this letter, nor that in the judgement of the Royal Engineers the dugout was too unsafe to bring out the bodies of Bombardier Davison or his comrades.

At the time I was so engrossed in the story of George Davison that I gave little thought to the other men, but David Harrop who is the custodian of the letters, decided to search for their identities.

And yesterday he told me that one was, “William Charles Apps 20, a gunner, 109656 from Hambledon in Hampshire”.

I think I should see what I can find out him, while I await David's research on the other two.but that is for later.

Location; The Western Front

Pictures; George Davison, 1916 and an extract from Captain Livington’s letter to Mrs Davison, 1918, from the George Davision Collection, courtesy of David Harrop

*Letter to Mrs Davison July 6, 1918

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