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[formerly 12251 (1851559) Warrant Officer Class 2, Royal Engineers]

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2005. All Rights Reserved.

Captain Ernest Nicholas Davey, DCM, TD, R.A.
(circa 1940)


This biography tells the life story of a Regular Army soldier whose military career started as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers near the turn of the century and ended as a Captain in the Royal Artillery after the Second World War. Unless otherwise noted, the majority of the information contained in this narrative has come from Davey's military service record, the History of the Corps of Royal Engineers and the history of the 8th Division in the Great War of 1914-1918. Details regarding other members of the Davey family were kindly provided by Desmond Davey of Elizabeth South in South Australia, the nephew of Ernest Nicholas Davey.

Ernest Nicholas Davey spent 21 years in the ranks of the Royal Engineers. The story of his life during the years 1914 to 1918 is in fact the story of the 15th Field Company, R.E. He spent those terrible years in the mud and blood of France and Flanders. The bloody battlefields of Nueve Chapelle, Aubers, Albert, Pilckem, Langemarck, St. Quentin, Rosieres, Villers-Bretonneux, Aisne, and Scarpe, names quite unfamiliar to present generations, were well known to Davey as he fought and toiled with the British 8th Division to final victory.

Like so many others of his generation his service to his country did not end after the First World War. He was called upon again to serve King and Country during World War II. He answered that call, as did many others of his family and countrymen, and proved himself truly worthy of being called a "Soldier". Although this narrative was meant to be primarily the story of Ernest Nicholas Davey, the reader will find that it is also meant as a tribute to the Davey family - a true family of the Corps of Royal Engineers.

I sincerely hope that this modest attempt to reconstruct Ernest Davey's life will give some measure of pride to his family, the present members of the Corps of Royal Engineers, and to all who have made the profession of arms their life's work.


Family Information (1888-1903)

Ernest Nicholas Davey was born on 22 November 1888 at South Camp, Aldershot, Hampshire, the son of Quartermaster Sergeant James Davey, Royal Engineers and Emily Frances Davey (formerly Nicholas).[1] The Daveys had two other sons who also served in the Army. Details of the military service of other members of the Davey and Nicholas families will be found in the Family Military History section of this research work.

At the time of Ernest's birth the Royal Engineer units stationed at Aldershot consisted of "A" Pontoon Troop, Field Park, Field Depot, the 17th and 23rd Field Companies, "N" Depot Company, and 1st Division, Telegraph Battalion. Ernest's father was assigned to one of these units as a serving non-commissioned officer at the time of his birth. From Aldershot the Davey family moved to Chatham where QMS James Davey was assigned to a unit under the Commandant of the School of Military Engineering.

Enlistment and Posting to Canada (1903-1906)

At Chatham young Ernest attended school until he was old enough to enlist in the Royal Engineers as a boy soldier on 15 January 1903 at the age of 14 years and 2 months. On 1 December 1903 he was mustered as a Bugler, Regimental Number 12251, with the 48th Company, R.E., then a Submarine Mining Company, commanded by Major Edward Humphrey Bland, R.E.[2] His first posting was to Canada where he served with that company in Military District Number 11 at Work Point Barracks in Esquimalt, British Columbia. As the Canadian Engineer establishment became more self-sufficient there was no further need for the Royal Engineers to remain in Canada, hence the company departed for England in 1906.

Gibraltar (1906-1914)

On 15 December 1906 Ernest, having attained the required age, was mustered to the ranks as a Sapper, and a little over two years later, on 19 February 1909, was appointed a Lance Corporal. It was with this rank that he proceeded to Gibraltar on 30 September of that year to be assigned to another unit, the 32nd (Fortress) Company, R.E. Royal Engineer units at Gibraltar, in addition to the 32nd Company, consisted of the 1st, 15th and 45th Fortress Companies. During this period the Fortress Companies performed duties as prescribed by the Director of Fortifications and Works. The duties that Sapper Davey was engaged in consisted of construction and maintenance of fortifications, small new barrack and hospital services, revetments and sea walls, artillery and rifle ranges, and electric lighting.

Davey served at Gibraltar for approximately eight years. He was promoted to Corporal in the 32nd Company on 30 July 1914. His service at Gibraltar was ended in 1914 when Germany's offensive moves in Europe required the reassignment of many Royal Engineer units stationed abroad. He was reassigned from the 32nd Company to the 15th Field Company and left for England with his new unit on 15 September 1914.

The Great War (1914-1918)

Immediately after the outbreak of the Great War in August of 1914 the 15th Fortress Company was redesignated as a field company and was alerted for assignment to the 8th Division, which had begun its formation in England on the 19th of September. The 8th Division, under Major General Francis John Davies, CB, had established itself at Hursley Park near Winchester in Hampshire, and its two field companies, which had been serving in stations abroad when war broke out, were hurried home. The 2nd Field Company under Major C.E.G. Vesey, R.E. returned from Egypt while the 15th Field Company under Captain P.K. Betty, R.E. made the voyage from Gibraltar. The companies were placed under the command of Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Rotherham, R.E., the Commander Royal Engineers (CRE) of the 8th Division.

On 30 October 1914 Corporal Davey found himself back in England at Hursley Park, making preparations for deployment to France. During this period the weather in the area had become quite stormy and the mud that pervaded the division's camp and its approaches afforded a foretaste, mild by comparison yet sufficiently unpleasant, of the conditions that awaited Davey in France and Flanders. He was soon to see the real thing. On 5 November 1914 his company marched out of its camp for Southampton, and during the night of 5/6 November, over a calm sea, Corporal Davey crossed to France, landing at Le Havre on the morning of 6 November. That quiet crossing, in which the peaceful stillness of the elements made contrast with the object of the journey, was a strange introduction to the long series of desperate encounters and grim, hard-fought battles that destiny had ordained to be the lot of Corporal E.N. Davey in the Great War.

He did not have to wait long for the commencement of his ordeal. After a disembarkation made slower than it need have been by a lack of adequate arrangements for unloading heavy vehicles and horses, Davey found himself established in a rest camp with his company outside the town of Le Havre by the evening of 7 November 1914. The next day the 8th Division began entraining for its movement to the front.

The division had received orders to proceed to the vicinity of Merville, southeast of the Nieppe Forest. By 12 November the entire 8th Division was concentrated in the area as part of the British IV Corps and went immediately into line in the Rue Du Bois-Tilleloy sector.

The remainder of November 1914 was passed by Davey in accustoming himself as best he could to a new and uncomfortable way of life, made more trying by snow and by a frost that was for the time of the year unusually hard. He and all the other troops of the British Expeditionary Force suffered extremely. Hurriedly extemporized braziers burning coke or charcoal could do little to bring relief from the bitter cold, and within a week of their arrival in line many men began to go down with sore and frostbitten feet. It was the beginning of an experience that all the early divisions of the British Expeditionary Force had gone through, but from which no British troops suffered more severely than did Corporal Davey and the other unacclimatized troops of the 8th Division. Having come from the warm climates of Egypt and Gibraltar, the 8th Divisional Royal Engineers did not have sufficient time in England to become accustomed to the colder weather before being sent to the front under such miserable conditions. The winter of 1914/1915 proved exceptionally wet and the hardships and discomforts suffered by Davey and the other men of his company could scarcely be realized by those who came to France later in the war.

During this period Corporal Davey and his company were not idle. There was much protective wiring to be done and the trench lines themselves were incomplete and not yet organized for defence. All the while a watchful eye had to be kept on the enemy. The Royal Engineers were employed repairing roads, improving billets, and manufacturing all kinds of trench stores, makeshift bombs, grenades, periscopes and trench mortars. Nearly every field company had a bomb factory. This type of work was continued throughout the winter.

Operations against the enemy were kept up as well during the winter. This pressure designed to maintain the offensive spirit of the troops was most successful. The 15th Field Company was very active during this period. On 27 November 1914, one of its officers, Lieutenant Philip Neame, R.E. crossed to the German lines with a small party of sappers and infantry and blew up a farmhouse, known as "The Moated Grange," from which snipers had been causing several casualties.

The division's first large-scale operation took place at Neuve Chapelle on 18 December 1914. Davey's company was in support of the 23rd Brigade, which was to attack the trenches covering the village. The troops delivering the attack were the 2nd Devonshires followed closely by two companies of the 2nd West Yorkshires and two sections of the 15th Field Company. The German advanced trench was seized, but the enemy counterattacked the next morning driving the West Yorkshire troops out again. The gallant Lieutenant Neame displayed great courage on this occasion by standing up on the parapet and bombing the Germans while the West Yorkshire Regiment withdrew and carried back their wounded. Lieutenant Neame was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action and Davey and his company had the distinct honor of having one of their officers with the division's first VC.

After the battle at Neuve Chapelle the division settled down once more to the dreary ordeal of its first winter in the line. Mud and water accumulated everywhere, the sides of the trenches fell in, and life for Davey and his comrades became a heart-breaking round of revetting, pumping, draining, setting up water points, improving strong points, bridging trenches, wiring, and varied though not relieved by the construction of new defences, trench lines and communications. Throughout January of 1915 the wet weather continued, and the depth of water increased until many lengths of trench were wholly untenable.

Plans for the next attack on Neuve Chapelle were underway and on 28 February 1915 the division was moved out of line and went into training in the La Gorgue-Merville areas to prepare for the battle. Engineer depots were formed at Rue Bacquerot and Rue Tilleloy. Stores for the battle were prepared; extra portable bridges for crossing trenches and short ladders were made to enable the troops to "go over the top." Other stores were made available and assembled together, both for the battle and for later consolidation of captured positions. Wire gaps were cut at night and knife rests fitted where the troops would go through for the attack. A serviceable type of trench mortar, throwing a jam-pot bomb was also manufactured out of gas pipes by the divisional Royal Engineers.

The 8th Division took part in the battle of Neuve Chapelle during the period of 10 through the 14 March 1915. The 15th Field Company was initially attached to the 23rd Brigade for the assault on 10 March. Careful preparations had been made by the new CRE, Lieutenant Colonel P.G. Grant, R.E., and as soon as the village of Neuve Chapelle had been cleared of the enemy, the Royal Engineers went forward and began the consolidation, loopholing walls and blocking up window openings and doorways. Work was carried on as long as possible, but the German shelling of the village was very heavy. Davey and his company marched with the 23rd Brigade through Le Drumez to Rue Du Bacquerot and thence to assembly positions north of Sign Post Lane. At 8:30 a.m. the attack commenced and by 1:00 p.m. the 23rd Brigade was in possession of the whole of its second objectives.

The attack was renewed the next day and the 15th Field Company was allotted to the 24th Brigade for the attack on the next objective. Although the first attack had been a success and had given rise to impressions of an actual breakthrough, the impetus gradually spent itself, and the operations died down for want of sufficient force and ammunition. By the evening of 13 March Davey's company had reverted to purely defensive consolidation. The Royal Engineers' casualties in the 8th Division amounted to five other ranks killed, three officers and 77 other ranks wounded and four other ranks missing. Among the wounded officers was 2nd Lieutenant H.A. Broadway, R.E. of Davey's company.

On 22 March 1915 the 8th Division was ordered to withdraw from the sector it had held for so long and was directed to move north to the line occupied by the 1st Canadian Division in the Fleurbaix sector. This line extended from Petillon in the neighborhood of Rouges Bancs to La Boutillerie. These moves were carried out during the period from 23 to 26 March.

In their new area the men of the 8th Division began preparations for the attack on Fromelles. The work inevitably followed the same general lines as that which preceded the Neuve Chapelle battle; with such improvements and additions as the experiences of that action suggested, and such alterations as local peculiarities of the ground demanded. Davey and the other divisional sappers found themselves constructing splinter-proof dug outs for infantry brigades and once again building foot bridges for crossing the River Layes and ditches on the line of advance. Wooden tramlines that had proved so useful in the previous battle were again brought into service. Additionally, two mine galleries were run out towards the German trenches by R.E. tunnelling company troops. The roads serving the new battle area were improved and added to, new gun emplacements were built, and ammunition and supply dumps formed.

These preparations continued throughout the month of April 1915 and in spite of increased shelling by the Germans, all was made ready by 8 May when the assaulting infantry moved into assembly positions. At 5:00 a.m. on 9 May the battle commenced, with the 15th Field Company (less one section) in support of the 25th Brigade. The detached section was intended to work at Fromelles when the village had been captured. By 5:50 a.m. the main assault had gained the German trenches. Corporal Davey and the remainder of the 15th Field Company had moved to Rue Petillon. At 7:50 a.m. Captain Neame reported to the CRE that the company was unable to progress further, as no more movement of supporting troops was taking place. During the remainder of the day the 25th Brigade held desperately to the ground it had won despite unceasing counterattacks by the enemy. Numerous attempts were made to send them help and to this end the 15th Field Company commenced to dig a communication trench towards the captured lines. By daylight on the morning of 10 May Davey and his company were reassembled back at CRE headquarters in Rue Des Quesnes. During the night of 10/11 May the company went forward with knife rests and blocked the openings made for the attacking troops in the wire entanglements in front of the breastworks. They also brought in a number of wounded found in front of the breastworks and in the gap. On 11 May the company rejoined the CRE headquarters, which had returned to Sailly and the division settled down once more to trench routine.

On 29 June 1915 the 8th Division was withdrawn from the Fleurbaix sector and by 30 June it had moved into line in the Picantin-le-Bridoux sector under British III Corps. There the division remained during July and August, enjoying a period of comparative quiet, which was the nearest thing to rest that the troops had experienced since arriving in France. On 1 August 1915 Major General Havelock Hudson, CB, CIE took command of the division.

The part to be played by the 8th Division in the Allied Autumn Offensive of 1915 was destined to be centered at Bois Grenier south of Armentieres. The attack commenced at 4:25 a.m. on 25 September with the objective of breaking through the German defences towards Fromelles and joining up with the Meerut Division's attack on Aubers Ridge. The 15th Field Company, along with the other divisional engineers, was kept under the control of the CRE to perform tasks in general support of the division. The assault, carried out by the 25th Brigade, succeeded in capturing the German front trench, but was driven back later by a strong counterattack. The divisional engineers dug a new trench connecting the two salients, Bridoux and Wells, which considerably shortened the line, and during the night it was further improved and communications trenches were provided. Casualties were suffered by the 15th Field Company and Davey lost six comrades killed and eight wounded. The company had been exposed to heavy shelling and machine gun fire while trying to get their work done by day.

Though rumors of yet further offensives continued to circulate and preparations were actually started for a fresh attack in November. Bois Grenier was the final engagement of the prolonged period in line that had been the 8th Division's introduction to modern warfare. The division remained in the Picantin-le-Bridoux sector throughout October and most of November strengthening front line trenches and preparing winter accommodations both in and behind the lines. On 24 November 1915 the division was withdrawn from the line and sent to the Lynde-Sercus-Morbecque-Steenbecque-Wittes area for a period of training. Training continued throughout December of 1915 and on 9 January 1916 the division began the move back to the Lys front. By 12 January the division was back in line in the Fleurbaix sector with the III Corps. During this tour of duty, which lasted until the end of March, the 8th Division was involved in training troops of the newly arrived 39th Division. Davey and the other sappers, now considered to be veterans in France, undertook the training of the two field companies of the 39th Division. Additionally, the sappers were engaged in drainage of the front line trench system and motor pumps were installed near Dead Hog Farm with a view to lowering the water level by pumping from the main drainage ditch into the River Layes.

On 27 March 1916 the 8th Division moved out of line and on 30 of March it arrived at Flesselles, some nine miles north of Amiens, to join the British II Corps of General Sir Henry Rawlinson's Fourth Army. The division did not remain there long and on 5 April it went into line in the La Boisselle-Thiepval sector overlooking the River Ancre and the German lines in front of those villages.

As the weeks passed the Allied preparations for an offensive intensified. Before the end of April the engineers had commenced to push out "Russian" saps towards the enemy's trenches. These were shallow covered ways intended to act as communications trenches when the German front line had been won. Davey again found himself working on dugouts, assembly positions and bomb depots, and on the construction of concrete shelters, observation posts and dressing stations. This was a period of relative quiet for the 8th Division, with little enemy activity.

June 1916, with its lengthening summer days, wore on and brought closer the fateful moment of that great battle for which the 8th Division had been so long and so strenuously preparing. The extent of the work to be done by the sappers for the upcoming battle of the Somme is clearly indicated by the following program drawn up by the CRE of the 8th Division, then Lieutenant Colonel F.G. Guggisberg:


1. Laying out and superintending the digging of a front-line fire trench to join Largo St. to the junction of Inch St. and the old firing line. Wiring to be left to the infantry. 

2. A definite support line; to be made fit for defence under R.E. supervision. 

3. A definite reserve line; to be made fit for defence under R.E. supervision. 

4. Approaches. Put them in a fit state for traffic, and label them; after which they will be handed over to the infantry. 

5. Dug-out accommodation. Is to be increased as much as possible, especially in the trenches in and behind the support line. Old dug-outs now in disrepair should be reclaimed in preference to starting new ones. All dug-outs to be numbered in accordance with the system handed over by the 32nd Division. Deep dug-outs should not be made in advance of the support line. 

6. Wiring to the front line will be left to the infantry, as will also the wiring of the support and reserve lines, but both the latter under R.E. supervision. 

7. Machine-gun emplacements and casemates. Each machine-gun should have a deep dug-out to hold the gun and crew during an enemy bombardment, for it will rarely be possible to provide cover to the actual gun position that will resist a direct hit from a 5.9-in. shell. 

8. Posts and defended localities. To be kept in a state of defence by their garrisons, under supervision of O.C., 15th Field Company: Becourt Wood; Maxse Redoubt; Usna Redoubt; Tara Redoubt. 

9. Marking the trenches. 

10. Trench gratings (duck boards), pumps, etc. 

11. Reconnaissance for a decauville tramway, mule-drawn, will be made, and the line pegged out with numbered pegs. Starting-point, near the cemetery, north-west of Bellevue farm.

Without such a program there was likely to be a haphazard employment of the field companies. When the companies were attached to brigades for work, the CRE lost control and best results were rarely obtained.

The greatest battle in British history - up to that time - opened on 1 July 1916. During the early hours of the morning all the assaulting troops reached their assembly areas with few casualties. So slight was the enemy's interference that it was thought that the seven day's artillery bombardment had done its work and completely broken down the enemy's trench system. But the Germans had provided their garrisons with deep mined dugouts, so well protected that even the storm of shells that had showered upon their trenches had been unable to touch them, and as soon as the British opening barrage had lifted to allow the assault to begin, the machine guns emerged unscathed to open a murderous fire on the advancing infantry. It was this feature of the German defence that broke up all the carefully made plans for the assault; it was this that blunted the edge of the first day's attack and caused very heavy casualties and took all the weight out of the blow so long prepared and so hopefully launched. The assault was not made until 7:30 a.m. when waves of men had to advance in broad daylight instead of at dawn as had been preferred. The troops were thus exposed to the full effect of the German machine gun fire.

This failure to achieve the expected success resulted in the work of the divisional engineers being limited to little more than the repair of roads and the opening up of communications. All the divisions had sections of field companies allotted for the rapid construction of strong points to form part of the consolidation of their final objectives, but in only a few cases were these objectives achieved.

The 8th Division's assault in the Ovillers-La Boisselle sector met with the same murderous fire and disastrous results that befell the other divisions in the battle of the Somme. The 15th Field Company accompanied the 70th Brigade of the 23rd Division to which it had been attached during the assault. By 10:00 a.m. all communications with the brigade, which had entered the German trenches, had been completely cut off. Indeed there was little left of the 70th Brigade and its front was held by a hundred of its men and the 15th Field Company. Shortly before 7:00 p.m. on 1 July orders were received for the relief of the 8th Division by the 12th Division. The relief was carried out during that night and before 6:00 a.m. on 2 July it was reported to be complete. The 8th Division artillery and the Royal Engineers remained in action for some time longer and came under the orders of the 12th Division. The 15th Field Company, because of its precarious position with the 70th Brigade, was one of the last units out. Surprisingly, not one man of the 15th Field Company was killed during the battle, although there were numerous wounded, some of who died later as a result of their wounds.

On 2 July the 8th Division assembled and went into billets in the Bruay-La Pugnoy-Allouagne area. The division remained there resting and training for a week and then was moved into line at 6:00 a.m. on 15 July in the Cuinchy-Hohenzollern-Quarries-Hulluch sector under the control of the British I Corps. A highly active period of trench warfare was maintained throughout the division's stay in this sector. On 12 October 1916 the division was taken out of the line and moved back to Bethune where it commenced its move southwards via Abbeville to the British Fourth Army and to its second entry into the great battle on the Somme. On 16 October, while this move was in progress, Davey was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

On 19 October the 8th Division moved into line in the Les Boeufs-Gueudecourt sector under the control of British XIV Corps. Immediate plans were made for an attack on Le Transloy and the sappers set about the construction of additional communication trenches during the nights of 21 and 22 October. The attack commenced at 2:30 p.m. on 23 October and lasted through most of the day with some ground being gained by the 23rd Brigade some 1,200 yards short of Le Transloy. Due to bad weather continuation of the attack was impossible and the division was relieved on 30 October.

The 8th Division was moved into a rest area near Treux and Meaulte on 31 October 1916. On 8 November it was back in the line in the Les Boeufs sector again under XIV Corps. The division remained responsible for this sector, engaging in normal small actions that were so customary in trench warfare, until 18 November when it was again taken out of line and sent to the Belloy-St. Leonard area, behind the Somme some 16 miles to the west of Amiens. There the troops rested, reorganized and trained.

Orders were received on 19 December and by 30 December the 8th Division was again in line in the Priez-Saillisel sector, this time with the British XV Corps. This sector was in poor condition and Sergeant Davey's company at once set to work to put it right. Front line posts were improved and rendered reasonably dry, many new duck board tracks were made, and much additional wire was put out to complete the very inadequate systems that had been found on taking over. The division's spell in line on this occasion was of short duration and it was moved out of line on 10 January 1917, back to the Belloy-St. Leonard area. There it underwent an additional fortnight's training and was involved in providing working parties for the XV Corps.

Orders were received shortly for a move back into line and on 27 January the division took up positions in the Bouchavesnes and Rancourt sectors. A very keen frost had set in towards the end of January and it continued practically without intermission during the whole of this tour of duty on the line. Davey and all the other troops preferred the cold to the never ending struggle with the mud that had marked their previous period in the line; but the ground was so hard as to make digging very difficult. On the other hand, movement was facilitated and Davey and his mates found it possible to carry up much needed material without undue difficulty. Thorough reconnaissance was undertaken in preparation for an attack on Bouchavesnes. With a view to final training of the troops for this attack, the division was again taken out of line on 10 and 11 February 1917 and went into General Headquarters reserve near Corbie on the Somme. A considerable amount of preliminary work on the front line sector had to be done. Two brigade headquarters, two battalion headquarters, battery positions and aid posts had to be constructed in addition to the extension of 600 yards of 60 centimeter railway. Gun emplacements also had to be prepared at closer range for wire cutting. Sergeant Davey and the other men of the divisional engineers were kept very busy during this period.

The 8th Division moved back into line on 21 February 1917 in the Bouchavesnes-Rancourt sectors under XV Corps control. The attack on the German lines east of Bouchavesnes began on 4 March at 5:15 a.m. The operation was completely successful in achieving its immediate objectives to deprive the enemy of his close observation over the British positions and to gain wide observation over the German trenches and gun positions in the Moislains Valley.

On 8 March 1917 the 8th Division was shifted to the Quarry Farm-Rancourt sector and took part in the XV Corps' advance to Gonnelieu on the heels of the German retreat during the spring of 1917. The divisional Royal Engineers under their new CRE, Lieutenant Colonel C.M. Browne, reached Sorel-le-Grand on 30 March, Gouzeaucourt Wood on 4 April and Gonnelieu Chateau on 21 April. During the advance the divisional engineers were involved in clearing debris from villages devastated by the retreating Germans and removing trees felled across roads as obstacles.

Upon reaching Gonnelieu, the 8th Division advance was slowed and finally stopped as the troops came in contact with the Hindenburg Line itself or with outpost defences so closely linked with the main position that the enemy could confidently be expected to fight with determination to retain them. However, since 2 March the troops of the division had gone resolutely and rapidly forward, meeting and overcoming skillfully all the difficulties in their way, gaining steadily in knowledge and experience, and in confidence in themselves and their leaders without which the best work of any military unit is impossible. In the end, the morale of all ranks had been raised to a pitch that made them feel that there was nothing they could not accomplish.

On 15 May 1917 the 8th Division came out of the line and passed into XV Corps reserve in the Nurlu-Moislains area. The fortnight spent in corps reserve was turned to excellent account, being the first opportunity for consistent training.

At the end of May 1917 the division was ordered north and marched across the old Somme battle front. Having traversed this area of desolation, the division commenced on 2 June to entrain for the British Second Army area. By 4 June the division was concentrated at Merris and remained in army reserve during the battle at Messines as part of XIV Corps. On 7 June all ranks remained in their areas ready to move forward if required.

On 11 June 1917 the 8th Division was transferred from the Merris area to the Caestre area and on 12 June it was assigned to the II Corps, British Fifth Army prepatory to taking part in the next major offensive. From Caestre the division moved forward into the line in the Ypres salient on 15 June astride the Menin Road at Hooge.

The division was withdrawn from the line on 11 July 1917 for a period of intensive training with a view to the coming offensive. It was consequently taken well back from the line to the vicinity of Bomy. Sergeant Davey soon found himself hard at work rehearsing for the planned offensive. After ten days spent in this way, the division began to move back to the line and on 22 July it was back with the II Corps astride the Menin Road. The division conducted a daylight raid on Bellewaarde Farms on 24 July, prior to the main attack at Ypres on Westhoek Ridge (part of the larger battle of Pilckem Ridge), which was fought on 31 July and 1 August when much ground was gained. During this period the 15th Field Company assisted a tunnelling company in making huge underground chambers for the accommodation of troops, particularly the reserve brigade. Work was also accomplished on the construction of tracks, without which progress over ground of the nature of the Ypres battle area would have been impossible. Both tasks were very heavy, but owing to the limited nature of the advance, the entire program of track construction could not be completed. The task of maintaining the tracks in practicable conditions under continuous shellfire taxed to the utmost the courage and endurance of all ranks.

On 2 August 1917 the 8th Division was taken out of the line and sent to Steenvoorde at the rear of the Ypres area to refit and train for a return to the front and to complete the taking of an objective of which nearly two-thirds had been gained.

The division returned to the line between Westhoek and the Ypres-Ronlers railway on 12 to 14 August ready for the next stage of the attack on Hanebeek as part of the battle of Langemarck, which took place between 16 and 19 August. The sappers laid tapes forward in readiness for the attack to enable the assaulting troops to maintain the direction of the attack. The division remained in line until the evening of 18 August. During that night it was relieved by the 47th Division and moved back to Ypres.

Sergeant Davey departed on home leave the same day that the division moved out of the line. He proceeded to Sutterton in Lincolnshire where he married Miss Elsie Mary Despicht, a 29-year old spinster, in the parish church on 23 August 1917.[3] Sergeant Davey's address at the time of his marriage is shown on their marriage certificate as St. Luke's in Wimbledon Park. Ernest's father, James Davey, is shown as deceased on the certificate. Elsie's father, Henry Robert Despicht, is shown as a School Master. The couple were married by Jonathan Smith, the Vicar of the Sutterton Parish church, in accordance with the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England and the marriage was witnessed by Florence Amelia Despicht, Elsie's sister, and Alice Davey, Ernest's sister.

The 8th Division had earned and required a rest, but the strain to which the British Armies were subjected in the Ypres offensive did not permit it to be left long out of the line. On 27 August 1917 the division took over the Ploegsteert sector of the II ANZAC Corps. The next day, after a short honeymoon of less than five days, Sergeant Davey rejoined his unit in the line.

Quiet though the new sector was by comparison with the scenes that the 8th Division had just left, the absence of infantry action did not mean the enemy was left alone. Gas attacks were carried out by "L" Special Company, Royal Engineers during the period on targets that included Duriez Farm, Inden Rooster Cabaret and Warneton. On 20 September 1917 the division took part in a demonstration on the British VIII Corps front against the German trenches immediately to the front. Artillery, smoke and machine guns were used but no infantry assault was actually made. For the remainder of the month and also throughout October of 1917 activity on the division's front remained normal with the usual raids and exchanges of artillery fire. On 14 November the division was taken out of line and moved to the Berquin-Lamotte area to the southeast of Hazebrouck, but by 17 November it was again in line in the Passchendaele sector with the British VIII. The division arrived when the great battle, which cost so much in blood and suffering to the British troops engaged, had already ended. Engineer work in the area included maintaining communications, repairing old roads and constructing new corduroy roads, constructing duck board tracks and other works necessary to improve the position. The carnage of the Passchendaele battlefield was still much in evidence as Davey and his company set about their work. Many unburied dead were still lying about and he probably witnessed first hand episodes similar to this one described by a driver in the Royal Field Artillery:[4]

"You couldn't do anything about the dead, and there were so many bodies about that you got callous about it. The Germans had there guns registered on the roads, and the engineers had to keep filling up the shell holes. They filled them up with anything. If a limber got a shell and was blown to pieces they just shoveled everything into the crater and covered it over, dead horses, dead bodies, bits of limber - anything to fill it up and cover it over and keep the traffic going."

The 8th Division took part in an action on 2 December 1917 on the Southern Redoubt at Passchendaele. After the completion of this action the division moved to the Wizernes area, south of St. Omer on 3 December and remained their for three weeks resting and training. Training facilities were good and a great deal of useful work was accomplished. On Christmas Day - in traditional Christmas weather, with snow and frost, the division's move back to the line commenced. By 27 December the 8th Division relieved the 14th Division at the very point of the Passchendaele salient. Conditions in the line were normal, although the weather was very cold with a good deal of snow. Elaborate precautions were taken to prevent trench feet and the health of the troops was good. They were cheered by the New Year's message from their corps commander, Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston.

On 1 January 1918 the London Gazette carried the announcement of the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal to Sergeant Ernest Nicholas Davey, Royal Engineers for his gallant conduct in the field. The citation for the award read as follows:

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has done continuous good work since the beginning of the war. On many occasions he displayed complete disregard of personal danger and great ability and always set a fine example to all ranks with him."

Distinguished Conduct Medal

The weather continued to be very trying. Alternate periods of extreme cold and sudden thaw, varied by heavy falls of snow and hail, maintained a seesaw of intense discomfort; until on 15 January 1918 a warmer spell was ushered in by a terrible storm, the wind blowing with gale force and the rain coming down in torrents. Plank roads were washed away and duck board walks disappeared. Men sank into ice cold clinging mud and had to be dug out. Many men collapsed from exposure and exhaustion; several were partially buried in mud and shell holes and were extracted with great difficulty. Sergeant Davey and the other men of the 8th Division found once more, as they had found in the first winter of the war, that life in Flanders' trenches in mid-winter could be dangerous enough, even if the enemy were not active.

After nearly three weeks of these horrible conditions, the 8th Division left the line on 19 January 1918 and moved to the Steenvoorde area. There it settled down to training, with the first few days being devoted to cleaning up, drill and general organization. On 29 January Sergeant Davey returned to England for an extended period, remaining there for perhaps as long as eleven months.[5] His service record shows nothing of his activities during this period; however, it appears that he spent some time in hospital in Northampton recovering from injuries received during a gas attack.[6] Davey family history also records that he was nursed back to health by his mother during his period of convalescence.

NOTE: As indicated in Endnote 2, the possibility exists that the date of Sergeant Davey's return to his unit as indicated in the extract of his service record may be in error. To account for this possibility, the narrative of the service of the 8th Division and the 15th Field Company will be continued. Even if Sergeant Davey was not present at the actions described below, the information presented should still be of interest to the military historian.

The 8th Division remained in corps reserve until 9 February 1918 when the move back to the line was begun and by 12 February the 15th Field Company was again back in the Passchendaele sector. There the company again took up the ordinary routine of trench life. A few days later the division was again relieved and on 8 March it arrived back in the Steenvoorde area for a comprehensive program of training. But the training was cut short. Before a fortnight had passed the division was sent south by train to the greatest episode of its career in France.

On 21 March 1918 the great German offensive on the Somme commenced. The detrainment of the 8th Division took place at Nesle, Chaulnes and Rosieres during the evening and night of 22 March and the following day it was in line with British XIX Corps along the River Somme. The division was called upon to undertake the active defence of the river line directly upon arriving along its banks. No time was given to the units to acquaint themselves with the details of the position they were so suddenly required to defend, nor were they given time to ascertain and guard against the positions weaknesses or to turn its advantages to the best account. The division's battalions went straight into the battle, fortified only by the knowledge that upon them depended the fate of the British Fifth Army.

The division held its positions on the line in the face of determined German attacks through 24 March when the enemy's pressure became so great that it was forced into a series of retreats and stubborn rear guard actions. By 27 March the 8th Division was forced back to a position just east of Rosieres. At 2:00 p.m. the 50th Division, which was posted directly to the left of the 8th Division, was forced to give ground north of Rosieres. It was necessary to commit the 15th Field Company, under the command of Major R.M. Taylor, R.E., into the line to fight as infantry in an effort to prolong the division's front to the left towards Harbonnieres. There the company fought side by side with the 1st Sherwood Foresters and 24th T.M. Battery, R.A. to hold this dangerous point in the line. The situation was restored and the extended front was firmly held until late that night, when the sector was again handed over to troops of the 50th Division. By morning of 28 March the 8th Division had moved back to a line between Caix and Vrely. During the night of 28/29 March the division concentrated at Jumel and remained in billets there throughout 29 March. The division had now been fighting and retreating for nearly a week without cessation, and some rest and the chance to obtain a certain amount of consecutive hours of sleep was essential for the men.

By 31 March the division had moved back to a line in the vicinity of Morisel where it held until being relieved by the French 133rd Division on 2 April. During the course of this day the division moved to the Cavillon area behind Amiens. A portion of the message addressed to the troops by the division commander on withdrawal sums up the service of the Royal Engineers during the retreat:

"It is impossible for me to adequately express my admiration for the action of the 22nd D.L.I.[7] (Pioneers), and the Field Companies, Royal Engineers of the division. They were all thrown in to fight as infantry and acted as such during the whole of the operations, earning the unstinted praise of the Brigadiers to whom they were attached."

The 15th Field Company had done its bit, and done it well. They had certainly been more fortunate than their comrades in the 2nd Field Company, the majority of whom were either killed or captured near Caix on 28 March 1918.

The 8th Division remained in the Cavillon area for a full week, resting, reorganizing and assimilating and training the very large drafts that were necessary to fill up its sadly depleted ranks. On 9 April the Germans began their offensive on the Lys front, and on 11 April the 8th Division was assigned to the ANZAC Corps. The division left Cavillon on 12 April for Bertangles, a village some five miles north of Amiens. At midnight on 17 April the division transferred again, coming under the orders of British III Corps, with a view to taking over a portion of the line. On 20 April it moved into line in the Villers-Bretonneux sector.

The Germans attacked the 8th Division near Villers-Bretonneux on 24 April 1918 and succeeded in capturing the town, but lost it again to British counterattacks on the following day. On 26 April the 8th Division consolidated its positions and was relieved on 27 April, moving out of line to a position near Amiens for rest and recuperation.

The 8th Division was transferred at the beginning of May 1918 from the ANZAC Corps in the British Fourth Army and was sent south to form part of British IX Corps, attached to the Sixth French Army on the Aisne. Entrainment commenced on 3 May and the following day the division was concentrated near Chery Chartreuve, southwest of Fismes and some three miles due south of the Vesle River. The units of the division were comfortably established in huts and villages in the surrounding neighborhoods.

On 13 May 1918 the 8th Division went into the line in the Berry-au-Bac sector, a sector that was thought to be a very "peaceful" area of the front. To the worn out division it seemed a welcomed and wonderful change. It this sector it was hoped that the division would find and enjoy the rest that it had so thoroughly earned. But that was not to be. In the sector the division was doomed to attract the storm of enemy attacks. Before the month was out it was to experience once again the full shock of a violent offensive - the battle of the Aisne - which the Germans launched on 27 May and continued through 1 June, causing continual withdrawal of the British troops.

During the initial stage of this great battle the 15th Field Company was kept at Gernicourt with the 2nd Field Company and the division's pioneer battalion to garrison the defences of the town. The opening German bombardment, which began at 1:00 a.m. on 27 May 1918 was terrific. Very many casualties were incurred among the troops moving to their positions, and the 15th Field Company suffered heavy losses, even before daylight. The following narrative extracted from the History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, Volume V, gives an explicit account of the events experienced by the 15th Field Company on the opening day of the battle of the Aisne:

"The 15th Field Company (Major E.C. Hillman) was in dug-outs on the Aisne Canal a short distance west of Gernicourt, with one section, under 2nd Lieutenant H.C. Garbutt, detached near Berry-au-Bac. All sections had parties told off for bridge demolitions. As soon as news of the impending attack had been received, orders were issued that the bridges were to be blown at the discretion of the field company commanders on the spot. Accordingly, when he received the warning order from the C.R.E. at 8 p.m. on the 26th, Major Hillman went along the canal to verify the readiness of all his bridge-demolition parties. He was at Berry-au-Bac when the German bombardment opened at 1 a.m., and returned at once to his headquarters to order immediate packing-up and readiness to move. He sent out Lieutenants E.H. Jacobs-Larkcom and C. Sutton with written orders to blow their bridges as soon as it became evident to them that the enemy was advancing, and that the blowing of the bridges was necessary to prevent him from crossing the river. The canal bridges were to be blown after the river bridges. Shortly after this, all telephonic communications was cut, and no further instructions were received from the C.R.E., but at about 4:30 a.m., Major Hillman was handed a message from the 25th Brigade stating that the enemy had penetrated the right flank of the Rifle Brigade. Stragglers and wounded coming along the canal bank reported that the Germans were advancing rapidly. At 6 a.m., 2nd Lieutenant Strong was sent out to his bridges. At 6:15 a.m. 2nd Lieutenant Garbutt came in with his section and reported that he had blown all his six bridges at Berry-au-Bac, and that the enemy was being prevented from working along the canal by some gunners. At 7 a.m., Lieutenant Jacobs-Larkcom returned to company headquarters, wounded in the face, and was evacuated. Major Hillman, who had by now collected a number of stragglers and three infantry officers, disposed of his little force for the defence of the canal bank."

"At 10 a.m., he was visited by Brigadier-General R.H. Husey, commanding the 25th Brigade, and ordered to take his men back across the canal and endeavour to hold the front edge of the Bois de Gernicourt. In the village itself were the 22nd D.L.I. (Pioneers) and some of the 490th Field Company. At 11 a.m., Major Hillman received word that the Germans were well across the river at Pontavert and were working round behind the Bois de Gernicourt. He was becoming more and more isolated, and there was a gap of 1,000 yards on his right between him and the East Lancashire Regiment, who were south-west of the village of Gernicourt. About midday, when it became obvious that the Germans were in the wood, he sent Captain A.D. Black, of the 490th Field Company, with twenty-five sappers, southwards to do what he could to prevent the enemy coming out of the wood. Captain Black evidently went to far, for at 12.30 p.m., the Germans suddenly appeared within a few yards of Major Hillman in his trench. They threw bombs, but the sappers had none to throw back. Hillman, seeing that the position was hopeless, passed the word down to retire towards the East Lancashires. Hillman was the last out, and following a trench that he thought would lead him to the infantry, came upon the remains of Captain Black's party, Captain Black having been killed. He told them to follow him, as he intended to get through the wood if possible, although groups of Germans could be seen on all sides. Crossing a clearing one by one, the little party managed to get into the wood and discovered a track leading southwards. On this track Hillman found an abandoned 18-pounder gun and removed the breech-block. At the end of the track, they saw a group of men whom they took to be British, but soon found that they were Germans, making signs to them to surrender. Hillman shouted to his men to follow him, but they were evidently too close to the enemy to do so. Hillman, now left by himself, doubled through the wood, but came upon six Germans talking together. He made a rush towards a trench but it turned out to be a cul-de-sac, and he was taken prisoner."[8]

"The 490th Field Company (acting O.C., Captain A.D. Black), which was working in the front line and was billeted at Le Cholers farm, turned out at 1 a.m. on the 27th to go into support under 25th Brigade arrangements, leaving bridge demolition parties under Lieutenant P. Burr and 2nd Lieutenant W.C. Leslie-Carter. Heavy casualties were incurred in moving up, but the company manned their trenches until daylight, when Germans appeared in the trench fifty yards to their left. Black gave orders to retire to 25th Brigade headquarters. Before these were reached, the company, now much reduced in strength, met some men of the Rifle Brigade, whom they joined and assisted to hold their position until a tank bore down on them. They then retired past Brigade headquarters and reached Le Cholers farm. Here Captain Black sent out Burr and Leslie-Carter to blow up their bridges, while he took his own party to Gernicourt, where men were being collected in a trench to make a stand. After some four hours, word was passed along that Germans were massing on the left, and a party of thirty R.E. and infantry was sent to hold up their advance. By this time, Major Hillman, O.C. 15th Field Company, had taken over command, and Captain Black with some twenty-five sappers and infantrymen, was ordered to man a trench on the left, but found it occupied by Germans. He gave orders to retire, and word was passed along to Major Hillman asking for orders. The reply was to get forward, as the enemy were killing men in the rear. Captain Black then led the way over the top of his trench, but was immediately shot. Lieutenant Otway followed safely, gathered the men together in another trench, and then, as ammunition had been exhausted, and there were no organized troops left in sight, he returned by stages with ten other ranks to the company's transport lines."

The end of the battle of the Aisne found the 8th Division in the Villers-aux-Bois area. On 3 June 1918 it was moved to the Bergeres-lez-Vertus area and on 8 June moved yet further south to the neighborhood of Pleurs. Training commenced at once but was cut short on 14 June when the division entrained and proceeded to the Huppy area where it came temporarily under the administrative orders of the British XIX Corps, which was then part of General Rawlinson's Fourth Army. The journey was made via Paris, Pont Remy, Longpre and Hangest. On 18 June the division came under orders of the British VIII Corps. At Huppy the following days were spent by units in reorganizing and refitting, with drafts of men arriving daily.

On 22 and 23 June 1918 the division was transferred back to the XIX Corps, marching by road from the Huppy area to the Gamaches-St. Valery area nearer the coast, in order to obtain better training facilities.

The period of training, however, gradually drew to a close and on 9 July 1918 orders were received placing the 8th Division in General Headquarters Reserve, to be ready to move at twenty-four hours notice. On 14 July the division was transferred to the British IX Corps and four days later directions were received for it to move by train to the British First Army area on 19 July. Detrainment took place at Aubigny, Tincques and Pernes and the division concentrated in the Mont St. Eloy-Villers area. On 23 July the division, now under British VIII Corps, moved into line near Vimy Ridge. There it settled down into the normal routine of trench life as plans for the final British offensive were being made for the advance to Mons.

During August and September of 1918 the 8th Division took part in operations at Oppy and on 7/8 October the division attacked the southern portion of the Rouvroy-Fresnes Line. By 9 October the division was well forward of the Rouvroy-Fresnes Line and the final stages of the advance to Mons had begun. By 11 October it was quite clear that the German forces were in full and hasty retreat and the division took complete advantage of the situation. Forward movement was necessarily dependent on good road and railway communications to the rear. Here is where the work of the divisional engineers was to play such an important role in the advance. The main road upon which the division had to depend ran through Gavrelle and Fresnes les Montavbin to Douai, and much labor was necessary before this route was able to take lorry traffic. Repairs were energetically taken in hand by the sappers and the task was accomplished with commendable speed.

During the whole of the advance the greatest care had to be taken in moving along roads, when entering dug-outs and houses and in touching anything lying about. Booby traps and mines were everywhere and the sappers' work was made all the more dangerous and demanding by their presence.

By 13 October 1918 the 8th division reached the Canal de la Haute Deule where the German defences were found to be very strong. The division pressed forward vigorously, however, and captured Douai. As soon as the town had been occupied, the task of bridging the canals was immediately taken in hand by the CRE, Lieutenant Colonel C. Russell Brown, D.S.O. and the Royal Engineers of the division. The 15th Field Company and the other sapper units went to work immediately. The first bridge to be constructed was a pontoon bridge for field guns and the first line transport across the Haute Deule Canal at Pont D'Annoy, a few mile north of Douai. This was begun at 10:00 a.m. and finished at midnight on 17 October. Two additional bridges were completed on the following day to the south of the town.

During the further stages of the advance the sappers had a most strenuous time; for the country over which the division was advancing was low-lying and intersected by many streams and deep ditches full of water, all bridges over which had been destroyed. Overcoming these obstacles, the division advanced rapidly until 24 October when a strong German defensive position was encountered at the Scheldt River and the Canal du Jard. The passage of the river was indeed a very difficult task to accomplish owing to the narrowness and limited number of approaches to the river bank and to the fact that the enemy commanded them with all his available artillery, trench mortars and machineguns. On 27 October three companies of the 2nd Devonshires were charged with establishing a bridgehead across the Scheldt. Two bridges constructed of Jerusalem pontoons were thrown across the river by the divisional engineers. Although one of these bridges collapsed, further pontoons were put in position under heavy shell fire. The companies were initially successful in the bridgehead, but were continually subjected to severe shelling. It was found to be impossible to continue the advance across the Canal du Jard. By the evening the three companies of the assaulting battalion were required to withdraw across the river and the 8th Division's advance was temporarily halted.

On 4/5 November 1918 the 8th Division was taken out of line and withdrawn into Army Reserve in the Marchiennes area. The division was thus released for its first rest after nearly three and a half months in the line. The rest was not, however, destined to be a lengthy one. By 9 November the division was back in line in the Conde-Hergnies sector under the British VIII Corps and the advance to Mons was resumed. The division reached the Tertre-Douvrain area on 10 November. At the time of the Armistice (11 November 1918), elements of the division had occupied positions that were already forward of Mons, being actually some four miles to the north-northeast of the city.

The 15th Field Company had served with distinction during the Great War and suffered a total of 77 fatalities during the conflict. These casualties are summarized in the following tables by rank, year and cause of death. The data for these tables were compiled from Soldiers Died in the Great War, a searchable digital database compiled by The Naval & Military Press.

Number of Casualties by Rank


of Casualties

2nd Lieutenants

1 (1.3%)

Company Sergeant Majors

1 (1.3%)


6 (7.7%)


5 (6.4%)

2nd Corporals

2 (2.6%)

Lance Corporals

5 (6.4%)


53 (67.6%)


5 (6.4%)



 As expected, the sappers suffered the greatest number of casualties (67.6%), with senior and junior non-commissioned officers suffering 24.4 percent of the total. Surprisingly, only one officer assigned to the company was killed during the war.

Number of Casualties by Year


of Casualties


2 (2.6%)


22 (28.2%)


11 (14.1%)


18 (23.1%)


25 (32.0%)



The worst years for the company obviously were 1915 and 1918. The 1915 casualties were those suffered by the company as part of the original British Expeditionary Force. The high number of casualties in 1918 were the result of the intense German offensives on the Lys and Aisne front during that year. Davey appears to have missed the actions during 1918 as a result of being gassed early in the year. He was present, however, during the difficult years of 1915 through 1917 when the 15th Field Company suffered over 65 percent of the casualties.

Number of Casualties by Cause of Death

Cause of Death

of Casualties

Killed in Action

57 (73.1%)

Died of Wounds

16 (20.5%)

Died (illness or accident)

5 (6.4%)



The intensity of the actions in which the 15th Field Company was involved is shown clearly by the number of men killed in action during the war. Statistics indicating that over 73 percent of the men were killed in action is an extraordinarily high number when compared with that same statistic noted in other field companies of the Royal Engineers.

On 15 November 1918 the division moved into Tournai where it came under the orders of the British III Corps. While at Tournai the division was privileged to furnish the Guard of Honour, composed of 1914 men (of whom Sergeant Davey was one), on the occasion of His Majesty the King's visit to the town on 8 December.[9]

The 8th Division settled down to a period of training, recreation and education, the troops drawing what consolation they could from the thought that their departure from France and Flanders was near at hand. On 15, 16 and 17 December 1918 units of the division marched to the area around Enghien and Ath, where games and education for civil employment were continued during the process of demobilization. Since the 8th Division was a division of the Regular Army, the word demobilization had only a limited significance.

The 15th Field Company was a Regular Army unit, and Sergeant E.N. Davey was a Regular soldier. His military service was to continue for an additional ten years. At the termination of this great conflict Sergeant Davey had completed 16 years of service and had earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.[10]

1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal
with mention in despatches earned by Sergeant Davey
in addition to the Distinguished Conduct Medal


In Europe the victors of the Great War had overthrown the governments of vast territories and were heirs to the chaos that followed. At Versailles there was a great tidying up of the debris of war in many lands, and the engineers were required to provide numerous reports to help those engaged in making what was hoped would be a lasting peace. British troops found themselves in occupation, for varying periods, of many parts of Europe, on the Rhine, in Silesia and in the late Austro-Hungarian Empire, under conditions that were those neither of war nor peace.

Sergeant Davey was posted with his unit in Germany as part of the occupation forces until 4 February 1919. The Davey's first child, Margaret Jean, was born on 24 April 1919, while Sergeant Davey was in Germany.

Within a year after the Armistice the great military machine the British had created was almost entirely dismantled and the occupation troops returned home. The Regular Army was about all that remained and its duties consisted of attending to small wars in hot places, police duties in support of civil authorities in India and Ireland, and even in the unhappy industrial areas of Britain. Once again the Army lay outside the mainstream of the nation's life and thought. It was not merely a return to before 1914, but rather the Army was put back to the 1890s, a colonial gendarmerie with no major role to play or to plan for.

On 29 October 1919 Sergeant Davey's unit, the 15th Field Company, reverted to its pre-war designation as a Fortress Company as a result of the post-war reorganization, and was again stationed at Gibraltar. The war had produced little change in the work of fortress units, and their plant was not modernized until at least a decade later. Thus, for nearly six years, Davey was back in Gibraltar among familiar surroundings, doing much the same work as he had been doing prior to the war. Only now of course he was a veteran of four long years of war with the added responsibilities of his rank and a family to care for. The Davey's second child, Norah Elaine, was born at Gibraltar on 21 August 1921.

While the initial reconstruction of the coast defences was progressing at Gibraltar and elsewhere, the great reorganization of the anti-aircraft searchlight units that had grown up during the war was being rapidly and thoroughly reduced. The last remnants of Number 3 and Number 17 Anti-Aircraft Companies, Royal Engineers moved to Blackdown at the end of 1920 to form the nucleus of the 1st Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battalion, R.E. This battalion formed part of the newly created 1st Air Defence Brigade. This new regular unit, destined to become the largest on the peace establishment of the Corps of Royal Engineers, did not at first present a very imposing spectacle on parade, having a total strength of three non-commissioned officers and four sappers under the command of a lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. It was more than a year before it welcomed its first Royal Engineers commanding officer - Lieutenant Colonel G.C.E. Elliot, and nearly two years before it received substantial reinforcement. Sergeant E.N. Davey was one of these reinforcements.

On 13 November 1921 the Davey family left Gibraltar for home and on 8 December Sergeant Davey was transferred to the Anti-Aircraft Defence, Pelham Down, Wiltshire. There he remained until 27 November 1922 when he left the Anti-Aircraft service for a short while to be posted to the Railway Sub-Commission in Cologne, Germany. On 2 December 1922 he was appointed Acting Company Quartermaster Sergeant and later CQMS on 21 April 1923.

On 16 July 1925 Company Quartermaster Sergeant Davey left Germany to be posted to the 1st Anti-Aircraft Searchlight (1 AASL) Battalion, R.E. at Blackdown, thus returning to the anti-aircraft service. He was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2 (Company Sergeant Major) on 16 May 1927. He continued to serve with the 1 AASL Battalion until 14 December 1928 when he was discharged after having served almost 26 years with the Colours. Upon discharge he was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal, a medal that he had become eligible to receive after completing 18 years of service.[11]

While Company Sergeant Major Davey was completing his final years of Regular Army service, Territorial Anti-Aircraft Searchlight units were being organized throughout the United Kingdom. For the defence of London, two air defence brigades of the Territorial Army were approved in 1923 and included two battalions later numbered the 26th and 27th Anti-Aircraft Battalions, R.E. (London Electrical Engineers). These battalions comprised the 301st to the 306th Companies, R.E. These companies were followed by the formation of eleven additional companies primarily intended to cooperate with the artillery for anti-aircraft defence. In Essex, the 309th to the 312th Companies were formed. After his discharge from the Regular Army, Davey took a civilian position as Chief Clerk with the 311th Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Company, R.E. at Brentwood in Essex.

In 1925 all the Territorial Army anti-aircraft units were incorporated into a formation known eventually as Air Defence Formations, T.A.[12] In addition to their primary mission of air defence, Royal Engineers searchlight units were constantly used for more pacific employment, most notably in connection with searchlight tattoos. The greatest of these was held annually at the Rushmoor Arena at Aldershot in Hampshire. To this spectacle hundreds of thousands of people came every year from all over the world, and up to 1935 the illumination for these events was always provided by searchlights manned by the 1st Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battalion from Blackdown. Territorial Army personnel illuminated the Tattoo at Wembley during the British Empire Exhibition of 1924-24, and subsequently the Northern Command Tattoos at Leeds, York and elsewhere. Tattoos at almost every British military station at home and abroad were lit by R.E. searchlights.

On 20 March 1929 Davey enlisted in the ranks of the Royal Engineers, Territorial Army and continued to work in his capacity as Chief Clerk for his company. In December of 1935 an Anti-Aircraft Division, T.A. was formed at Uxbridge to replace the existing Anti-Aircraft Formations, T.A. The division included nine brigades of artillery and eleven anti-aircraft searchlight battalions of the Royal Engineers organized on a geographical basis into four unequal Anti-Aircraft Groups, T.A. Each battalion was organized with four companies. Davey's company was absorbed into the 28th (Essex) Brigade, R.E. of the 29th (East Anglian) Anti-Aircraft Group as part of the 1st Anti-Aircraft Division.

On 31 March 1938 approval was granted to gradually transfer the responsibility for anti-aircraft and coast defence electric light duties from the Corps of Royal Engineers units of the Regular Army to the Royal Regiment of Artillery. It was not long before it was to apply to the Territorial Army as well. However, the year 1938 was one of great anxiety and of consequent turbulent expansion of the British Army caused by events in Germany. It was no time to carry through this great change in haste, and a considerable period was to elapse before the Royal Artillery could train sufficient personnel to take over with safety their new duties.

On 30 April 1938, Ernest Nicholas Davey was discharged from the ranks of the Territorial Army as a Sergeant and on 1 of May 1938 he was commissioned a Lieutenant (Quartermaster) in the Royal Engineers (Territorial Army). He was posted to the 28th (Essex) Anti-Aircraft Battalion of the Essex Fortress Regiment and served in No. 1 Anti-Aircraft and Searchlight Company of that battalion.

By the end of 1938 there were 50,000 officers and men in the British Army borne on the establishments of searchlight units or employed on searchlight duties, and of these some 30,000 were still men of the Royal Engineers. Such then was the development of the searchlight service and the work of E.N. Davey in the twenty years following the end of the Great War.

4. THE SECOND WORLD WAR (1939-1947)

When the Second World War broke out in September of 1939, Lieutenant Davey was still serving at home in the Territorial Army. On 1 August 1940 he was transferred to the Royal Artillery, as the anti-aircraft mission of the Army had by then also been completely transferred to that corps. He was appointed a Staff Captain at the headquarters of the 29th Anti-Aircraft Brigade on 15 February 1941. On 15 May 1941 this unit was redesignated the 74th Garrison Regiment, R.A. Davey remained in this assignment until 18 February 1942 when he was posted to the 86th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment. On 4 March 1942 he was appointed to the rank of Temporary Captain.

During the remainder of the war Captain Davey continued in his service in various anti-aircraft units, to include:

On 1 November 1942 Davey was promoted to the permanent rank of Captain (Quartermaster). From 18 July 1946 he served as Commander of Prisoner of War Camps in Northern Ireland and in Cambridgeshire, and in 1947 he was awarded the Territorial Decoration[13] for efficient service.

The Territorial Decoration awarded to
Captain Davey

5. POST SERVICE LIFE (1948-1976)

Captain Ernest Nicholas Davey was finally released from the Army on 7 April 1948 after nearly ten years of service in the Territorial Army. For his service during the Second World War he was awarded the Defence Medal and War Medal.[14] His residence in 1949, shortly after his release from the Army, was listed in his service papers as 75 King's Road in Brentwood, Essex.

Ribbons of the Defence and War Medals
Awarded to Captain Davey for service in WW2

After his retirement from the Army, Davey settled in Northampton. He played cricket and was an avid football spectator, having played the latter in the Army in his younger days. He had a great love for the sport and had played in Gibraltar and in Germany. In Gibraltar he had played on the Army team and was one of the few non-commissioned officers to play, in the days when presumably only officers could play cricket. As he got older he was no longer able to play cricket, but he joined the Northamptonshire and Worcestershire Cricket Clubs as a spectator and spent most of each summer watching the games.

Davey was very keen on traveling and spent many holidays abroad on coach tours. One of his last holidays was spent in Gibraltar where he had spent so many years as a soldier. He always dreamed of returning to Canada, but unfortunately he never got the opportunity.

Captain Ernest Nicholas Davey's final years were spent residing at 41 Fountain Court in Evesham, Worcestershire. He died of bronchopneumonia and cancer on 4 November 1976 at the Royal Infirmary in Ronkswood, Worcestershire at the age of 88 years. His death was certified by G. Ralphs, M.B. and was registered at Worcester on 5 November 1976 by the Registrar, Mr. John Billings. Ernest's daughter, Jean Margaret Roberts, was the informant of his death. At the time of her father's death, Mrs. Roberts resided at Mallows, The Marsh, Carlton, Bedford. It is interesting to note that although he served in the Royal Artillery during his last years in the Army, his death certificate indicates that he was a Captain, Royal Engineers (retired). It is not clear whether Mrs. Roberts provided erroneous information to the Registrar or whether Ernest, in his final years, still clung to the memory of his many years with the Corps of Royal Engineers.


Ernest Nicholas Davey lived a full and active life, which he devoted entirely to his country. His total service spanned more than 45 of his 88 years. He served both in the ranks and as an officer, as a Sapper and a Gunner, through two world wars in 12 different units. The Army was his life and he served it well. He was a soldier's soldier, a professional in every sense of the word, and a man who brought great credit himself, the Corps of Royal Engineers and the Royal Regiment of Artillery. I am proud to have his medals in my collection and to have come to know him through researching his life. His family, friends and fellow soldiers must be even prouder to have known him personally.


9916 Regimental QMS James Davey, R.E.

James Davey, circa 1900

Ernest Nicholas Davey's father, James Davey, was born in St. Luke's Parish, London, Middlesex on 28 August 1848.[15] He was the son of William Henry Davey, a blacksmith, and his wife Caroline Davey (formerly Attree).[16] William Henry and Caroline Davey also had a second son, William James, who like his brother James also was to serve in the Royal Engineers. A third son, Henry (1850-?) apparently did not serve in Her Majesty's forces.

As a young man, James worked as a clerk in St. Margaret's Parish in Middlesex until he enlisted in the 18th Hussars at Westminster on 20 March 1868. James was a small man, standing 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 122 pounds. He had hazel eyes, dark brown hair and spare muscular development.

James Davey attested as a Private, Regimental Number 1354, in the 18th Hussars on 23 March 1868 and was posted to the Cavalry Depot at Canterbury for training. The 18th Hussars had gone to Madras in 1864 and was serving there when James enlisted. He never had a chance to join the regiment, for he was transferred to the Royal Engineers Trains on 1 December 1868 with the rank of Sapper and Regimental Number 9916. He was then posted to "A" (Pontoon) Troop at Aldershot on 5 December 1868.

During the next 14 years James Davey served at home in postings to Aldershot, Chatham and Woolwich. His record of service shows the following significant entries:



January 1869:

Posted to Chatham.

1 June 1869:

Posted to duties as a Driver.

1 July 1869:

Posted to Aldershot.

8 September 1869:

Posted to Chatham.

2 June 1870:

Authorized Good Conduct Pay at 1d per day.[17]

19 August 1870:

Posted to Aldershot.

1 September 1870:

Promoted 2nd Corporal.

20 October 1870:

Posted to Woolwich.

14 February 1872:

Promoted Corporal.

31 July 1872:

Awarded 2nd Class Certificate of Education.[18]

23 March 1874:

Authorized Good Conduct Pay at 2d per day.

8 May 1875:

Posted to Chatham.

15 July 1875:

Posted to Aldershot.

12 April 1876:

Promoted Sergeant.

20 June 1876:

Posted to Chatham.

20 March 1877:

Posted to Aldershot.

On 25 December 1878 James Davey married Emily Frances Nicholas, a young lady from Chatham, Kent, at the parish church in Gillingham, Kent.[19] James was a 29-year old sergeant in the Royal Engineers and Emily was a 19-year old spinster, the daughter of Joseph Nicholas, a greengrocer, late of the 20th Regiment of Foot.[20] Witnesses to the marriage included the bride's father and one Ellen Rebecca Murphy.[21]

James and Emily had four daughters and six sons. The daughters were Bertha (1879-1929), Alice (1881-1979), Emily (1894-1991) and Norah (1902-1992). The sons were Frank (1884-1968), Reginald James (1885-1889), Ernest Nicholas (1888-1976), James (Jim) M. (1891-1974), Reggie (1896-1896) and Henry Nicholas (1898-1973). Frank, Ernest and Jim enlisted in the Royal Engineers and became senior non-commissioned officers in the Corps. Both Ernest and Jim were later to receive commissions during the Second World War.

Almost a year after their marriage, on 17 December 1879, Sergeant Davey re-engaged[22] at Aldershot for his second term of limited engagement to complete 21 years of service. The 1881 British Census shows Sergeant Davey, his wife Emily and his one-year old daughter Bertha living at South Camp, Aldershot at the time of the census.

James Davey's only period of foreign service began on 9 August 1882 when he went abroad to serve in the Egyptian Campaign of 1882. He remained in Egypt for only 73 days and departed for home on 20 October 1882. For this short period of campaign service he was awarded the Egypt 1882 medal and the Khedive's Star 1882.

Davey was authorized Good Conduct Pay at 4d per day on 23 March 1884.[23] He completed 18 years of service in 1886 and was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. On 2 February 1887 he was promoted to the rank of Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant while he was serving at Aldershot.

James Davey completed his military service, a total of 21 years and 17 days, on 8 April 1889. When he left the Army, he remained at Aldershot where he worked as a Canteen Steward. The 1891 British Census for the staff of the Headquarters and Garrison at Aldershot shows the following information regarding the Davey family:[24]

Name and

Relation to Head of Family

Condition as to Marriage

Last Birthday

Profession or Occupation

Where Born

James Davey




Pensioner and Canteen Steward

London, Middlesex
Emily Frances Davey




  Chatham, Kent
Bertha Davey




  Aldershot, Hants
Alice Davey




  Aldershot, Hants
Frank Davey




  Aldershot, Hants
Ernest Nicholas Davey




  Aldershot, Hants
Annie Henrietta Price





India (British Subject)

Mrs. Davey was five months pregnant with their last child, James, who was born on 13 September 1891. As the census was taken as of the night of Sunday 5 April 1891, James is not shown in the table. About 1895 the Daveys moved to Chatham where Mrs. Davey gave birth to three more children between 1896 and 1902.

James Davey lived on for another 9 years following the birth of his last child. At some point during these 9 years the Davey family moved to 77 Sutherland Street in London. During these years it is believed that James was a Publican (Licensed Victualler). James Davey died in 1911 at the age of 62.

8218 CSM William James Davey, R.E.

Ernest Nicholas Davey's uncle, William James Davey, served in the Royal Engineers from 1864 until 1885. The following is an outline of his service as taken from his military records.

May 1846: :

Born in the parish of St. Lukes, near the town of London, in the county of Middlesex.

20 Jun 1864: :

Enlisted in the Royal Engineers at Aldershot, Hampshire at 9 a.m. for a bounty of 2-00 and a free kit. At the time of his enlistment he indicated that he was a mechanical engineer by trade, that he was not an apprentice, and that he was not married. He stated that he was not a member of the Militia or Volunteer forces, that he had no prior naval or military service, he had never been previously rejected for service and that he was not a deserter. He was certified on this date as medically fit for service.

Description on Enlistment
Age: 18 years and 1 month.
Height: 5 feet 5 inches.
Complexion: fresh.
Eyes: grey.
Hair: brown.
Distinctive marks: none.

21 Jun 1864: :

Swore the Oath of Attestation for a period of 12 years with the Colours.

22 Jun 1864: :

Re-examined and given a Medical Certificate of fitness for approval of his attestation.

23 Jun 1864: :

Attestation approved at Aldershot. He was issued Regimental Number 8218 and assigned to the Royal Engineers Train at Aldershot with the rank of Driver.

1 May 1867: :

Promoted to the rank of 2nd Corporal.

21 Jun 1867: :

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 1d per day.[25]

1870: :

Qualified as an Instructor in Army Signalling.

21 Jun 1870: :

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 2d per day.

21 Aug 1870: :

Married to Louisa Sabina Gammon at Gillingham, Kent without leave.[26]

1 Sep 1870: :

Promoted to the rank of Corporal.

1871: :

Passed a course in Telegraphy at the School of Military Engineering at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, Kent.

1 Mar 1871: :

Promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

30 Mar 1876: :

Re-engaged at Aldershot to complete 21 years of service.

21 Jun 1876: :

Eligible for Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 3d per day.

2 Dec 1878 to 30 Dec 1879: :

In South Africa. Served in the Zulu War of 1879. Awarded the South Africa Medal with clasp [1879].

31 Dec 1879: :

Posted to Gibraltar.

21 Jun 1880: :

Eligible for Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 4d per day.

23 Dec 1880: :

Arrived in England from Gibraltar.

1 Sep 1881: :

Promoted to the rank of Company Sergeant Major.

18 Jan 1882 to 1 Nov 1883: :

Served on the island of Bermuda.
Completed 18 years of service on the 20th of June 1882.
Awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal with gratuity of 5-00.

2 Nov 1883 to 7 Sep 1885: :

Stationed at Gibraltar.
Returned to England to complete his 21 years of service following his service at Gibraltar.

21 Jun 1885: :

Eligible for Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 5d per day.

13 Oct 1885: :

Discharged from the Army at Chatham, Kent in consequence of the termination of his second period of limited engagement.
Character on discharge rated as "Very Good."
Intended place of residence after discharge: 77 Sutherland Street, Pimlico, London S.W.
His total service at the time of his discharge was reckoned at 21 years and 115 days.

1850614 ECQMS[27] Frank Davey, R.E.

Frank Davey, circa 1917

Ernest Nicholas Davey's brother, Frank Davey, served in the Royal Engineers from 1894 until 1922. The following is an outline of his service as taken from his military records.

Oct or Nov 1883: :

Born at Aldershot, Hampshire.

1 Dec 1897: :

Enlisted as a Boy Soldier in the Royal Engineers at Chatham, Kent for a period of 12 years with the Colours.

Description on Enlistment
Age: 14 years and 1 month.
Height: 5 feet 2 inches.
Complexion: fresh.
Eyes: grey.
Hair: brown.
Distinctive marks: none.
Religion: Church of England.

7 Oct 1898: :

Appointed Bugler.

1 Nov 1901: :

Posted to the ranks as a Sapper upon achieving the age of 18 years.
Assigned to the School of Military Engineering for recruit training.[28]
Assigned to "B" Depot Company under the command of Captain G.F.B. Goldney, R.E.

11 Jul 1902: :

Completed the shortened (62 days) Recruits Course of Field Works at Chatham

3 Mar 1903: :

Embarked for service in South Africa.

24 Mar 1903: :

Disembarked in South Africa.

24 Oct 1907: :

Embarked for home service.

15 Nov 1907: :

Disembarked in England.

10 Aug 1908: :

Appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal (unpaid).

17 Oct 1908: :

Appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal (paid).

22 Feb 1911: :

Promoted to the rank of 2nd Corporal.

12 Sep 1911: :

Embarked for service on the island of Malta.

21 Sep 1911: :

Disembarked at Malta.

22 Feb 1913: :

Promoted to the rank of Corporal.

25 Jul 1913: :

Promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

20 Jun 1915: :

Embarked for home service.

25 Jul 1916: :

Promoted to the rank of Engineer Clerk & Draughtsman Staff Sergeant in the Establishment for Engineer Services.[29]

1917-1918: :

Served in the Great War of 1914-1918 and is believed to have served in Italy. For his service during the war he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

19 Jun 1918: :

Birth of daughter Marion (Pat) Nicholas at Londonderry, Ireland.

25 Jul 1919: :

Promoted to the rank of Engineer Clerk & Draughtsman Quartermaster Sergeant in the Establishment for Engineer Services.

31 Oct 1919: :

Completed 18 years of service in the ranks.

Awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

5 Sep 1920: :

Birth of son James Arthur in Londonderry, Ireland.

1920: :

Served in Singapore.

30 Jan 1922: :

Birth of son Reginald Cecil at Singapore.

1922: :

Served in the 16th Fortress Company, R.E. at North Shields.

31 Oct 1922: :

Discharged from the Army at North Shields after having served 24 years and 11 months. At the time of his discharge, the officer commanding the 16th Fortress Company indicated that his character during his time in service had been "Exemplary." Colonel Charles Howard Foulkes, the Commander Royal Engineers of the Northumbrian Area, wrote that Frank Davey was "thoroughly honest, sober, industrious, intelligent and trustworthy; and is a very capable and reliable clerk and draughtsman."

3 Jul 1923: :

Son Reginald Cecil died at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire.

16 Dec 1923: :

Daughter Joan Margaret born at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire.

30 Sep 1927: :

Son Desmond born at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire.

11 Sep 1936: :

Daughter Pamela born at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire. Died at Oxford on 24 December 2002.

After leaving the Army Frank Davey worked in the office of the Commander Royal Engineers in Catterick Camp from 1923 until about 1947.[30] He died on 28 October 1968.

Frank Davey had a daughter and two sons. His daughter, Marion ("Pat") Nicholas Davey served as a Nursing Sister in Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Q.A.I.M.N.S.).[31] His sons, James Arthur and Desmond, also served in the Army.

1877245 Corporal James Arthur Davey was born on 5 September 1920. He served in the Royal Engineers and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) from 1939 to 1945. His medal entitlements include the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, Defence and War Medals.

14467090 Staff Sergeant Desmond Davey served in the Royal Engineers from 1945 to 1967. The following is an outline of his service as taken from his military records.


Des Davey, circa 1946


Des Davey, circa 1993

30 Sep 1927:

Born at Catterick Camp.

2 Jun 1945:

Enlisted in the General Service Corps at Darlington, County Durham for a period of seven years with the Colours and five years with the Royal Army Reserve.

3 Jun to 18 Jul 1945:

On home leave without pay.

19 Jul to 29 Aug 1945:

Home service with 96 Primary Training Center, Bodmin, Cornwall.
Records show that he was exempt from the requirements for a 1st Class Certificate of Education because he was in possession of a school certificate from the University of Durham that indicated he had qualified in all required subjects.

30 Aug 1945 to 24 Sep 1947:

Home service after transfer to the Royal Engineers.
Aug 1945: 9 Training Battalion Royal Engineers, Portland, Dorsetshire. Awarded the War Medal for service up to 2 September 1945.
Oct 1945: Qualified as a Pioneer, Class C III.
Nov 1945: 8 Training Battalion Royal Engineers, Lockerbie, Dumfries.
Feb 1946: 1 Bridging Camp, Castle Douglas, Kircubrightshire.
Mar 1946: 9 Training Battalion Royal Engineers, Portland, Dorsetshire, serving as a Training NCO.
Apr 1946: 3 Training Battalion Royal Engineers, Aldershot, Hampshire, serving as a Training NCO and Survey Training Center Royal Engineers, Warminster, Wiltshire.
Jul 1946: Survey Training Centre (Survey Trigonometry A3 Course).
Mar 1947: Qualified as a Topographic Draughtsman, Class A III.
May 1947: Air Photo Interpretation Unit (U.K.), RAF Nuneham, Oxfordshire.
Aug 1947: "D" Company, 12 Depot Battalion Royal Engineers, Barton
Stacey, Hampshire.

25 Sep 1947 to 12 Sep 1950:

Service with Middle East Land Forces (MELF).
Oct 1947: Survey Directorate, General Headquarters, MELF at Fayid, Egypt.
Apr 1948: 13 Field Survey Squadron, MELF, Fayid Egypt and No. 1 Topographic Detachment Ma'an, Transjordan. This latter unit later became 19 Topographic Squadron.
Sep 1950: 42 Survey Engineer Regiment, MELF, Fayid, Egypt and 156 Transit Camp, Port Fuad, Egypt.

13 Sep 1950 to 14 Jul 1954:

Home service.
Nov 1950: Company "D" 12 Depot Battalion Royal Engineers, Barton Stacey, Hampshire and S.M.S., Newbury, Berkshire.
Jan 1951: 3 Training Regiment Royal Engineers, Cove, Hampshire.
Feb 1951: School of Military Survey, Newbury, Berkshire.
Apr 1952: 13 Field Survey Squadron, Haslemere, Surrey.
Apr 1953: School of Military Survey, Newbury, Berkshire.
Nov 1953: Qualified as a Trigonometrical Surveyor, Class A I.
Jun 1954: Married Josephine Ann Monaghan, WRNS,[32] on 1 June at Reading Berkshire.

15 Jul 1954 to 11 Aug 1957:

Service with Middle East Land Forces (MELF).
Jul 1954: 42 Survey Engineer Regiment, Fayid, Egypt.
Aug 1955: 42 Survey Engineer Regiment, Zyyi, Cyprus.
Awarded the General Service Medal 1918 with clasp [CYPRUS] for 24 months service on the island of Cyprus during the period 1 April 1955 to 19 April 1959.

12 Aug 1957 to 8 Sep 1961:

Home service.
School of Military Survey, Newbury, Berkshire.
Qualified as a Field Survey Technician, Class I, on 28 October 1960.
Member of the School of Military Survey Rifle Team in 1959.

9 Sep 1961 to 16 Mar 1963:

Service on the island of Cyprus.
42 Survey Engineer Regiment, Zyyi, Cyprus.

17 Mar 1963 to 21 Sep 1964:

Service in Aden.
19 Topographic Squadron (later became 13 Topographic Squadron). Awarded the General Service Medal 1962 with clasps [RADFAN] and [SOUTH ARABIA]. Awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal upon completion of 18 years of service in 1963.

22 Sep 1964 to 29 Sep 1967:

Home service.
Oct 1964: Army Apprentices College (A.A.C.), Chepstow, Monmouthshire. Discharged at Chepstow on 29 September 1967 with a total of 22 years and 120 days service.
Description on Discharge:
Year of birth: 1927.
Height: 5 feet 11 inches.
Complexion: fresh.
Eyes: brown.
Hair: brown.
Marks and scars: none.
Military Conduct: "Exemplary"
Assessment of Trade Proficiency by the Commandant A.A.C.:
"He has been employed in the Survey Department as the Senior Field Survey Instructor. He is a very competent and proficient surveyor. He has a very sound knowledge of field surveying principles and techniques. He has a good sense of control over his subordinates, asserting his authority in a quiet yet effective manner. A very experienced surveyor, he takes a great pride in producing work which is of a high standard. He has been engaged in a wide variety of survey work during his service."

Des Davey emigrated to South Australia and immediately went into a position in the Land's Department Survey Branch doing much the same sort of work that he did in the Army; that is, providing horizontal and vertical control for mapping. After a few years he also was assigned work to carry out some subdivisions of Crown Land, which meant having to trace back to original surveys, a number of which were done by soldiers of the Royal Sappers and Miners many years before.

15495 (later 1852015) ECQMS Jim Davey, R.E.

Jim Davey, circa 1941

Ernest Nicholas Davey's brother, Jim Davey, served in the Royal Engineers from 1906 to 1935. The following is an outline of his service as taken from his military records.

13 Sep 1891:

Born at Aldershot, Hampshire.[33]

13 Mar 1906:

Enlisted as a Boy Soldier in the Royal Engineers at Chatham, Kent. Regimental number 15495.

24 Apr 1906:

Awarded a 2nd Class Certificate of Education.

2 Aug 1906:

Passed 60-yard swimming test, while serving in "A" Depot Company, R.E. at Chatham, Kent.

1 Oct 1906:

Promoted to Bugler with "A" Depot Company, R.E. at Chatham, Kent.

30 Nov 1906:

Departed England for Gibraltar. Posted to the 15th Company, R.E. commanded by Major R.J.B. Mair, R.E. at St. Jagos Barracks.

1 Apr 1907:

Granted kit and messing allowance while assigned to the 15th Field Company, R.E.

13 Mar 1908:

Awarded his first Good Conduct Badge.

30 Mar 1909:

Passed subjects for Group I, 1st Class Certificate of Education.

13 Sep 1909:

Posted to the ranks as a Sapper on attaining 18 years of age.
Transferred to "D" Depot Company, R.E. at Chatham, Kent.

3 Oct 1909:

Transferred to "C" Depot Company, R.E. at Chatham, Kent.

9 Oct 1909:

Returned to England from Gibraltar.

10 May 1910:

Transferred to "M" Depot Company, R.E. at Chatham, Kent.

31 Aug 1910:

Passed class of instruction in Architectural Drawing ("Skilled").

1 Oct 1910:

Transferred to the 23rd Field Company under the command of Major G.C. Kemp, R.E.
The 23rd Field Company formed part of the 1st Division at Aldershot, Hampshire.

26 Oct 1910:

Awarded 1st Class Certificate of Education.

30 Nov 1910:

Serving with the 23rd Field Company, R.E.

18 Oct 1911:

Departed England for South Africa.
Transferred to the 54th Field Company, commanded by Captain P.S. Greig, R.E. at Tempe in the Orange Free State.

28 Dec 1912:

Deserted at Bloemfontein, South Africa, apparently while under orders for India. It appears that he remained in South Africa.

16 Aug 1914:

Taken on the rolls of "G" Depot Company, R.E, Chatham, Kent as a Sapper.
Granted a King's Pardon for desertion as part of a general amnesty declared in preparation for the war against Germany. All of his service to his date of surrender was forfeited.

20 Sep 1914:

Arrived in England from South Africa.

12 Oct 1914:

Transferred to the 2nd Field Company, R.E. and alerted for service with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France.

5 Nov 1914:

To France with the BEF.

26 Sep 1915:

Wounded by a shell splinter in the upper left arm during the battle of Loos.

1 Oct 1915:

Returned to England from France.
Posted to "G" Depot Company, R.E. at Chatham, Kent.

18 Nov 1915:

Appointed paid Acting Lance Corporal.

25 Dec 1915:

Appointed a paid Lance Corporal.

12 Jan 1916:

Appointed Acting 2nd Corporal.

14 Jun 1916:

Appointed Acting Corporal.

25 Sep 1916:

To Mesopotamia with the Indian Expeditionary Force.
Posted to the 88th Field Company, 13th Division.
Reverted to the rank of paid Lance Corporal on this date.

1 Jan 1917:

Promoted to the rank of 2nd Corporal.

2 Feb 1917:

Appointed Acting Corporal.

23 Dec 1917:

Appointed Acting Sergeant.

24 Jan 1918:

Reverts to the rank of 2nd Corporal at his own request.

14 Dec 1918:

Appointed Acting Corporal.
  Posted to India following the end of the Great War.
Awarded the 1914 Star and bar, British War Medal and Victory Medal for service in the Great War.

28 Feb 1919:

Appointed Acting Sergeant and on the same day appointed Acting Warrant Officer Class II and Acting Company Sergeant Major.

6 Mar 1919:

Reverts to the rank of Acting Sergeant upon the arrival of a senior non-commissioned officer in the company.

11 Apr 1919:

Serving at Karachi.

13 Jul 1919:

Serving with 2 Special Field Company, R.E. at Deolali, India.

4 Sep 1919:

Arrived in England from India.
Posted to "G" Depot Company, R.E, at Chatham, Kent.

4 Oct 1919:

Reverts to the rank of 2nd Corporal.


Issued Army Number 1852013.

9 Jan 1920:

Departed England for Palestine and Egypt.
Posted for temporary duty to the Establishment for Engineer Services.

1 May 1920:

Promoted to the rank of Engineer Clerk Corporal on the roll of the Establishment for Engineer Services.

11 May 1920:

Transferred to permanent duty with the Establishment for Engineer Services in Egypt.

29 Jul 1920:

Promoted to Engineer Clerk Sergeant.

16 Jan 1922:

Posted to the office of the Commanding Officer Royal Engineers in Alexandria, Egypt.

21 Jan 1922:

Married to Emma Evelyn Constance Edmondson at the British Consulate, Alexandria, Egypt.

27 Dec 1922:

Birth of daughter, Jacqueline Mary, in Alexandria, Egypt.

29 Jul 1923:

Promoted to Engineer Clerk Staff Sergeant.

1 Sep 1923:

Re-engaged to complete 21 years of service with the Colours to count from 16 August 1914.

3 Oct 1923:

Elects to not to have former service which was forfeited on trial for desertion, being dispensed with on 16 August 1914, a total of 8 years and 156 days from 13 March 1906 to 15 August 1914, restored upon promotion to the rank of Engineer Clerk Sergeant or on completion of 3 years clear of entry in the Regimental Conduct Sheet.[34]


Awarded the India General Service Medal 1908 with clasp [AFGHANISTAN N.W.F. 1919] by authority of Army Order 24/1925 for service on the North West Frontier of India in 1919.
The medal is named to him as an Acting Sergeant and was received while he was serving in the office of the Commander Royal Engineers, Alexandria District.

20 Jan 1925:

Birth of daughter, Gillian, in Alexandria, Egypt.

3 Dec 1925:

Returned to England from Egypt.

29 Jul 1926:

Promoted Warrant Officer Class II (Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant).

19 Nov 1926:

Posted for duty in the office of the Commander Royal Engineers, Northumbria Area, Lowlands District.

Sep 1929:

Serving in the office of the Commander Royal Engineers, Lieutenant Colonel E.A.H. James, at Catterick Camp in North Yorkshire.[35]

18 Jan 1930:

Departed England for Egypt.

30 Jan 1930:

Posted to the office of the Commander Royal Engineers, Lieutenant Colonel R.A. Boger, Cairo District at Abbassia, Egypt.


Awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal by authority of Army Order 63/1933.

9 Apr 1935:

Service from 13 Sep 1909 (date of attaining the age of 18 years) to 27 December 1912 (date prior to desertion) restored.

5 May 1935:

Departed from Port Said aboard SS "Mooltan" bound for England.

17 May 1935:

Returned to England from Egypt.
Posted for duty under the Commander Royal Engineers Home Counties, Lieutenant Colonel R.H.S. Hounsell, at Dover, Kent.

15 Aug 1935:

Discharged from the Army with a total of 24 years and 106 days of service on termination of his second period of engagement.
Physical Description on Discharge:
Height: 6 feet 1 inch.
Hair: dark.
Eyes: hazel.
Figure: tall, slim and athletic.
Distinguishing marks: Scars from septic poisoning on the left forearm and right ankle from injuries incurred in Mesopotamia in 1914 during the Great War.
Assessment of Military Conduct: "Exemplary."
Intended Address: 44, Wyndham Road, Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Service Abroad:
India: 160 days.
Gibraltar: 2 years and 313 days.
South Africa: 2 years and 337 days.
B.E.F. France: 330 days.
Mesopotamia: 2 years and 183 days.
Palestine and Egypt: 5 years and 327 days.
Egypt: 5 years and 118 days.
  Jim Davey subsequently was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.[36]

In 1938 Jim Davey wrote a letter to a publishing house describing an incident in which he was involved during the Great War. It should be noted that the letter is reproduced here using the format and abbreviations in the original.

21st November, 1938.

The Editor,
"The Great War"
"I was There,"
John Carpenter House,


With reference to the article taken from the letters of the late Captain Sir Edward Hulse, Bart., 2nd Bn. Scots Guards, 7th Division, appearing on page [sic] of the publications 7th Part, in which he said how he noticed the signs of an Unofficial Armistice around the trenches about 8.30 a.m. on Christmas morning, 1914.

1. It may interest you to know that I as one of a small party of 10 R.E.'s entered the trenches of the 1st Bn. Royal Irish Rifles, 8th Division to the right of the 7th, about 8 p.m. on the Christmas Eve. Whilst making our way to a selected point to commence sapping towards the German trenches, a succession of fancy lights started coming over from their line to ours. These were not 'Very' lights as I remember it. At the same time the enemy were constantly calling out to this effect "don't fire, its Xmas; if you don't, we won't; come over and talk."

2. After a while a private of the R.I. Rifles went over (it was quite dark) and I saw him come back with a box of cigars to himself. In a short while numbers of our men were meeting the Germans, in "No Mans Land" chatting, walking about together and exchanging what they could, in the form of smokes and food. After a short while our sapping was done from beyond our parapet in "No Mans Land" in full view of the enemy, and I myself to this day still possess the field post card written by a German soldier whilst I held his torch, "wishing me a happy Xmas," thereon.

3. The point I wish to make is, as this happened some hours before midnight Xmas Eve 1914, it was some hours in advance of the happenings which Sir Edward Hulse records as on Xmas morning with the Scots Guards.

4. It may be of further interest that his mother the now late Lady Hulse entertained the Old Contemptibles of the Salisbury District, to tea at the Guildhall of that city in the summer of the Coronation Year 1937, at which I was present.

Yours faithfully,

(Sgd.) J. Davey

Jim Davey was recalled to the Colours for the Second World War. The Royal Engineers List for 1943 shows that he received a Regular Army Emergency Commission as a Lieutenant (Quartermaster) on 26 October 1939. He rose to the rank of Major by the end of the war. Jim Davey died on 9 January 1974.

Further connections of the Davey family and in laws of members of the Davey family to the Corps of Royal Engineers is splendidly illustrated by the following letter written by Frank Davey to the editor of The Sapper in 1937.[37] It should be noted that the letter is reproduced here using the format and abbreviations in the original.

Dear Sir,

I was very interested to read the Family Records in the February and March editions of the Sapper, but I wondered what Corps family bears comparison with mine for family record, which was only broken last year when my own son was not accepted as a special enlistment as a boy owing to being slightly overage when he applied.

Father (Ex RQMS. J. Davey) 21 years

Self (Ex QMS. F. Davey) 25 years

Brother (Ex CSM. E. Davey) 25 years

Brother (Ex QMS. J. Davey) 26 years

2 Brothers in law Ex M.S. & Ex. S.S. Edmondson

Brother in law Ex S.S.R. Bourne 10 years died in service

Fathers 3 brothers, Service not known. Pensioners I believe.

(There are still a number of Daveys serving and I wonder if they are any relation)

Mother's Brother (Ex CSM W. Nicholas)[38] 25 years

Mother's Brother in law (Lt. & QM. W. Dodswell)[39] Service on to 30 years

Mother's Brother in law's 2 sons (Ex Cpls P. & Reg Dodswell)[40] 12 yearseach

Mother's Brother's Son in law (Ex Sgt. C.F. Bone) First editor of the Sapper I believe.

Mother's Brother in law (Ex CSM Harlin)[41]

Mother's Brother in law's Sons (Ex Cpl. H. Harlin, died on fourth survey tour of the Congo)

(Ex M.S. J. Harlin) 25 years

(Ex Tem. Capt. W. Harlin)[42] 30 years

Mother's Brother in law (Ex CSM. Mee) [correct spelling is Meigh]

Mother's Brother in law (F.W. S.M. J.P. Russell)[43] 26 years

Mother's Brother in law's Son (Ex Cpl. A. Russell) 12 years

Mother's 3 Brother's in law[44] (Band Sgts. Conquer)[45] about 26 years each

Mother's Brother in laws Nephew (Band Sgt. F. Conquer)[46] 26 years

The Dodswells were also connected by marriage to the Deans, Ex Capt Will and H. & CSM. C.[47] The daughter of the former married Ex. Capt. F. Barnes.

I have not referred to Medals as they are too numerous to mention, but my Mother's father who was well known to the old Officers of the Corps, fought in the Crimea & Indian Mutiny. I know as a small boy I used to look with awe on the bars of the two former.

Yours faithfully,

F. Davey


  1. William Henry Davey, b. April 1819, at Lambeth. m. 30 July 1845 at St. Martins, London, to Caroline Attree, b. June 1821 at St. Mary Newington Workhouse (illegitimate),[48] d. 11 October 1880. William Henry died 23 December 1905.

I. William James Davey, b. 6 May 1846 at St. Lukes, London. m. 21 August 1870 at Gillingham, Kent to Louisa Sabina Gammon, d. ? 8218 Company Sergeant Major, Royal Engineers. Served 1864-1885. William died ?

II. James Davey, b. 28 August 1848 at Lambeth. m. 25 December 1878 at Chatham, Kent to Emily Frances Nicholas, b. 16 April 1860 at Chatham Barracks, Kent. d. 18 September 1940. Enlisted as Private, 18th Hussars. Transferred and became 9916 Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, Royal Engineers. Served 1868-1889. James died 16 May 1911.

A. Bertha Davey, b. 1879 at Aldershot, d. 1929.

B. Alice Davey, b. 1881 at Aldershot, d. 1979.

C. Frank Davey, b. 1883 at Aldershot, Hampshire. m. 21 November 1917 at Londonderry, Ireland to Mabel Wilson, b. 23 April 1897 at Londonderry, Ireland. d. Nottingham, 2 October 1987. 1850614 Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant, Royal Engineers. Served 1894-1922. Frank died 28 October 1968.

i. Marion (Pat) Davey, b. 19 June 1918 at Londonderry, Ireland. Nursing Sister, Q.A.I.M.N.S. Served 1939-1945.

ii. James Arthur Davey, b. 5 September 1920 at Londonderry, Ireland. 1877245 Corporal, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Served 1939-1945.

iii. Reginald Cecil Davey, b. 30 January 1922 at Singapore. Died 3 July 1923 at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire.

iv. Joan Margaret Davey, b. 16 December 1923 at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire.

v. Desmond Davey, b. 30 September 1927 at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire. m. 1 June 1954 at Reading, Berkshire to Josephine Ann Monaghan, WRNS. 14467090 Staff Sergeant, Royal Engineers. Served 1945-1967.

a. Ian Davey. b. 6 November 1956 at the Army Hospital in Nicosia, Cyprus

b. Elizabeth Davey. b. 9 February 1958 in Married Quarters at Hermitage, Berkshire.

c. Linda Davey. b. 13 March 1960 in Married Quarters at Hermitage, Berkshire.

d. Kevin Davey. b. 18 November 1961 at the Royal Air Force Hospital in Akrotiri, Cyprus.

vi. Diana Pamela Davey, b. 11 September 1936 at Catterick Camp, North Yorkshire. d. 24 December 2002 at Oxford.

D. Reginald James Davey, b. 1885. d. 1889.

E. Ernest Nicholas Davey, b. 22 November 1888 at Aldershot, Hampshire. m. 27 August 1917 at Sutterton, Lincolnshire to Elsie May Despicht, b. 1888, d. ? 12251, later 1851559 Company Sergeant Major, Royal Engineers. Commissioned Royal Artillery. Served 1903-1939 and 1939-1946. Ernest died 4 November 1976.

i. Jean Margaret Davey, b. 24 April 1919.

ii. Norah Elaine Davey, b. 21 August 1921.

F. Jim Davey, b. 13 September 1891. m. on 21 January 1921 at Alexandria, Egypt to Evelyn Edmonson,[49] b. ?, d. ? 15495, later 1852015 Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant, Royal Engineers. Served 1914 -1935. Jim died 9 January 1974.

G. Emily Davey, b. 1894 at Aldershot, Hampshire, d. 1991.

H. Reggie Davey, b. 1896 at Chatham, Kent, d. 1896.

I. Henry Nicholas, b. 1898 at Chatham, Kent. m. on 9 August 1930 atWimbledon to Edith Cowper. Henry died in 1973.[50]

J. Norah Davey, b. 1902 at Chatham, Kent, d. 1992.

III. Henry Davey, b. 20 November 1850 at Lambeth. m. ? at ? to Elizabeth Moores, b. ?, d. ? Henry died ?


In his letter to the editor of "The Sapper" in 1937, Frank Davey refers to the Dadswells being "connected by marriage to the Deans, Ex-Captain Will and H. & CSM C." Captain William George Dean, R.E. was born in 1865 and his brother Captain Henry James Dean, R.E. was born in 1878. It would be safe to assume that their wives probably would probably have been born about the same time as their husbands. The identity of CSM C. Dean remains a mystery. From the wording in Frank Davey's letter it is unclear which of the Deans were married to Dadswell girls or if indeed more than one of the men was married to a daughter of William Dadswell.

The 1881 British Census shows that William and Rebecca Dadswell had two daughters: Emily C. born in 1874 and Amy A. born in 1876. Both of these girls would reasonably fit the ages of William G. and Henry J. Dean as far as marriage is concerned. Unfortunately, as stated above, Frank Davey does not provide enough detail in his letter to determine which of the Dadswell daughters married which of the Dean brothers.

The 1881 census return shows that William Dadswell was a Quartermaster Sergeant in the Royal Engineers at the time of the census and that he was living with his wife, two daughters and two sons at 6 Fox Street in Gillingham, Kent. The two sons are shown to be Percy W., age 2 years, and Reginald M., age 11 months. Both sons later joined the Royal Engineers and rose to the rank of Corporal, each serving for 12 years.


1881 British Census

A search of the 1881 British Census uncovered information regarding Ernest Nicholas Davey's uncle, 8218 Company Sergeant Major William James Davey, Royal Engineers. The 1881 census data for William Davey's family is shown in the table below.

Institution: "School of Military Engineering", Brompton Barracks.
Census Place: Gillingham, Kent, England.
Source: Family History Library Film 1341213, Public Record Office Reference RG11, Piece 0897, Folio 20, Page 16.
Name and Occupation


Marital Status


Sex Birthplace
William Davey, Sergeant, R.E.




Male London, Middlesex, England
Louisa Davey(*)




Female Gillingham, Kent, England
Louisa Davey




Female Gillingham, Kent, England
Clara Davey




Female Aldershot, Hampshire, England
Ellen Davey




Female Chatham, Kent, England

(*) Formerly Louisa Sabina Gammon. Married William James Davey at Gillingham, Kent on 21 August 1870.

1901 British Census

The family of William Davey also was found in the 1901 Census of England. Their residence was located at 5 St. John Street in Colchester, Essex. The census return (Public Record Office Reference RG13/1706) shows the following information:

Civil Parish: Colchester. Ecclesiastical Parish: St. Mary at the Walls.
Municipal Borough: Colchester. Ward of Municipal Borough: West.
Parliamentary Borough: Colchester.

Name and Age in 1901

Where Born


Civil Parish


William Davey 54 years

London, Middlesex



Division Office Clerk

Louisa Davey
52 years





Elizabeth Davey
16 years





George Davey
13 years





William had left the Army by this time and may have been working in a civil capacity for the Army as a Clerk.


The Children of Joseph and Margaret Nicholas

The following information was provided by Mr. Desmond Davey of Elizabeth South, South Australia and by Ms. Barbara Nethercott in Canada, both of whom are researching their family trees.

1. Mary Ann Nicholas was born in Montreal, Canada in 1852. The 1871 Census of England shows that Mary Ann was married to Corporal John Harlin, Royal Engineers. John Harlin had been born in Ireland in 1839. John and Mary Ann were living at 5 Crescent Place in Kensington, London in 1871. This address is a couple of hundred meters from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Corporal Harlin was serving with a detachment of the 38th Company, Royal Engineers, which was then stationed at the South Kensington Museum Barracks.

John and Mary Ann Harlin had two sons. John Gerald Harlin was born on 4 March 1877 at Brompton Barracks. Their second son, William Joseph Harlin was born in 1879 at Medway. Sergeant John Harlin died in 1879 at the age of 40.

Mary Ann Harlin remarried on 6 June1886 at Chatham. Her second husband was Sergeant John Meigh, Royal Engineers, a 43-year old widower. John Meigh was born in Fillongley, Warwickshire in 1842. The 1891 Census of England shows that John and Mary Ann Meigh were living at Camp Field in Anglesey with their three children.

John Gerald Harlin, Mary Ann's eldest son from her first marriage was not living in Sergeant Meigh's household in 1891. He had enlisted as a Boy Soldier in the Royal Engineers and was living at Chatham at the time.

2. Rebecca Sarah Nicholas was born in Montreal, Canada in 1853. Rebecca Sarah married Corporal William Moir Dadswell, Royal Engineers at Gillingham, Kent on 19 June 1872. Dadswell had been born at Devonport in 1847. The Dadswells had five children: Emily, born in 1874; Amy, born in 1875; Percy, born in 1879; Reginald, born in 1880; and Winifred, born in 1887.

Rebecca Sarah Dadswell died in 1942 at the age of 89 years. William Moir Dadswell was subsequently commissioned a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers and died at Brompton Barracks on 19 January 1890 at the age of 43 years. Amy Dadswell married a Sergeant Frederick Bone, Royal Engineers and was living with her mother at 6 Mansion Row in Gillingham, Kent in 1901.

3. Margaret Ellen Nicholas was born in Chichester, West Sussex on 23 May 1857. She married Sergeant Jim Pears Russell, Royal Engineers at Brompton, Kent on 25 July 1877. Jim Pears Russell was born in 1855 and died on 20 December 1952 at the age of 97 years.

4. Emily Frances Nicholas was born at Chatham Barracks in Kent on 16 April 1860. She married Sergeant James Davey, Royal Engineers at Gillingham, Kent on 25 December 1878. James Davey was 29 years old when they married.

5. Joseph Nicholas was born at Old Brompton, Kent in 1863. There is no record of his being married prior to 1901.

6. Harriet Nicholas was born at Old Brompton, Kent in 1867. No detailed information is available about her life. Family legend indicates that she married into nobility and then cut off any connection with the rest of her family.

7. Georgina Nicholas was born at Old Brompton, Kent in 1867. Corporal Frederick William Conquer, Royal Engineers, age 23, married Georgina Nicholas, a spinster, age 23, on 5 July 1890 at the Parish Church in the Parish of Farnborough, in the County of Southampton.[*] The groom's father, Robert Conquer, was an Army Pensioner. The bride's father, Joseph Nicholas, was a Tradesman. The witnesses to the marriage were Jim Pears Russell and Margaret Ellen Russell.

The information in the table below regarding Frederick and Georgina Conquer was taken from the 1901 Census of England.

Dwelling: 61 High Street, Gillingham, Kent
Census Place: Gillingham, Kent
Source: 1901 Census of England
Name and Occupation Relation

Marital Status



Margaret Nicholas, Fruiterer and Greengrocer





Joseph Nicholas





Old Brompton, Kent
Georgina Conquer





Old Brompton, Kent
Frederick Conquer, Ser-geant, Royal Engineers

Son in Law




Plymouth, Devonshire
Dorothy Conquer





Old Brompton, Kent
Connie Conquer





Old Brompton, Kent
Stanley Conquer





Old Brompton, Kent
Cecil Conquer





Old Brompton, Kent

8. William Nicholas was born in Gillingham, Kent in 1873. He joined the Royal Engineers as a Boy Soldier at age 14 years and is though to have become a Company Sergeant Major.

NOTE: (*) Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage, General Register Office, MXC 113649, dated 19 May 2005.


The following information regarding the family of William James Davey was provided by Mr. Desmond Davey. The source of the material is the 1891 Census of England.

Dwelling: 55 Holbein Buildings, Chelsea, London
Source: 1891 Census of England
Name and Occupation




William (James) Davey, Clerk & Collector



St. Lukes, London

Louisa Davey



Gillingham, Kent

Mary Ann Davey



Brompton, Kent

Arthur Davey



St. Georges, Bermuda

Elizabeth Davey




George Davey



Crewe, Cheshire

Clara, who appears in the 1881 Census (See ADDENDUM NO. 2 above), was aged 16 in 1891 and was living with her uncle and aunt, Edwin and Charlotte Davey at 283 Kensal Road, Kensal Green, Chelsea. Clara was working as an apprentice laundress.

Arthur Davey, aged 18, is shown in the 1901 Census as living at Aldershot Barracks as a Driver in the Royal Engineers.

William Henry Davey (father of William James Davey) is shown in the 1881 Census as a widower living at 10 Adela Street in London. His wife Caroline had died in 1880.


In an email dated 9 August 2005, Mr. Desmond Davey provided the following information regarding the Davey, Nicholas, Russell and Harlin families. In some cases this new information corrects information previously provided in the main body of the narrative.

1. William Henry and Caroline Davey had six sons;

a. William James Davey (1846 - ?). According to the 1891 Census of England, William James and his wife Louisa lived at 55 Holbein Buildings in Chelsea. William James worked as a Clerk and Collector. Their children living with them at that time included:

(1) Mary Ann, aged 9 years, born in Brompton, Kent.

(2) Arthur Edward William, aged 8 years, born in St. Georges, Bermuda..

(3) Elizabeth, aged 5 years, born in Gibraltar.

(4) George, aged 2 years, born in Crewe, Cheshire.

Arthur Davey appears again in the 1901 Census of England as a Driver in the Royal Engineers serving at Aldershot. His birthplace in the 1901 census is given as Bermuda.

b. James Davey. According to the 1901 Census of England, James and his family were residing at Woodlands, No. 93 Canterbury Street in Brompton, Kent. According to the Medway local council, street directories for the period from 1898 to 1908 list James as the Licensee of the Woodlands Hotel or Tavern. This building was later renumbered 96 and the name of the establishment was changed to The Canterbury Tales. The family then appears to have moved to 71 Ashenden Grove, Wimbledon Park, London.

c. Henry Davey (1850 - ?) married Elizabeth Ann Moores in 1872. The couple had nine children.

d. Edwin Davey (1854 - ?) married Charlotte Allen in 1886. They had no children. Edwin appears in the 1881 Census of England as a Soldier in the Reserve, unemployed.

e. John Davey (1856 - ?) married Mary Georgina Evans in 1885. They had three children.

f. George Davey (1861 - ?) married Sarah Miller in 1884. They had six children. The 1901 Census of England shows William Henry Davey living with George and his family. William Henry was 81 years of age and was employed as a Blacksmith's tool sharpener. All previous census returns from 1851 to 1901 show him as a Blacksmith.

2. Margaret Ellen Nicholas and Jim Pears Russell.

The 1891 Census of England shows Sergeant Major Jim Pears Russell, R.E. living with his wife and four children at North Camp Farnborough (Aldershot). The children listed in the census are as follows:

a. Ethel Martha, born in 1879 in Dublin.

b. Arnold, born in 1880 in Dublin.

c. Madge, born in 1881 at Gibraltar.

d. Jim, born in 1888 at Aldershot.

3. Mary Ann Nicholas (1852 - ?) and John Harlin (1839 - 1879).

The 1861 Census of England shows John Harlin as a 21-year old Sapper born in Ireland and stationed at Aldershot. Lance Corporal John Harlin, R.E. and Mary Ann Nicholas were married in Malta on 20 January 1870. The 1881 Census of England shows John and Mary Ann with three children:

a. Henry Francis, born on 11 July 1874 in Nova Scotia.

b. John Gerald, born on 4 March 1877 in Brompton, Kent.

c. William Joseph Patrick, born on 1 August 1879 in Brompton, Kent.

The death certificate of Sergeant John Harlin, R.E. shows that he died of pneumonia on the 6th of February 1879 at Ft. Pitt Hospital in Rochester, Kent. He was 39 years old at the time of his death. His son, William Joseph Patrick, was born after his death.

4. Henry Francis Harlin.

The 1901 census for Bedford shows Henry Francis Harlin as a 25-year old Corporal in the Royal Engineers. The census indicates that he was born in Nova Scotia and in 1901 he was living as a boarder at No. 45 Palmerston Street. The head of the household at this address was one Charles Fisher.

In his 1937 letter to The Sapper Frank Davey mentions a Corporal H. Harlin who died on the fourth survey tour of the Congo. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, Volume 3, p. 204, mentions a Sapper Harlin as a Topographer in the 1898/99 Boundary Commission of The Gambia. It is likely that this was Henry Francis Harlin.

5. William Joseph Patrick Harlin.

In the 1901 census for Shornemeade Fort, William appears as a 21-year old Corporal in the Royal Engineers.

6. John Gerald Harlin.

John attended the Royal Hibernian Military School in Dublin for five years. On the 4th of March 1891, at the age of 14, he was attested into the Royal Engineers at Dublin as a Boy Soldier. His trade on enlistment was listed as Tailor. The following are the details of his service:

 Appointed Bugler:

15 November 1891

Attained the age of 18:

4 March 1895

Promoted to Sapper (No. 25614):

31 July 1895

Promoted Lance Corporal:

20 January 1902

Re-engaged to complete 21 years of service at Halifax, Nova Scotia:

27 May 1902

Promoted 2nd Corporal:

8 October 1903

Reverted to Lance Corporal:

1 November 1903

Promoted Engineer Clerk Sergeant:

13 April 1909

Promoted Engineer Clerk Staff Sergeant:

13 April 1912

Transferred to Railway Transport Establishment:

5 August 1914

Promoted Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant:

13 April 1915

Promoted Warrant Officer Class I, Superintending Clerk:

24 January 1918

John Gerald Harlin served at the following locations during his time in service:


4 March 1891 to 26 May 1892

Halifax, Nova Scotia:

27 May 1892 to 15 December 1895


16 December 1895 to 13 November 1896

Halifax, Nova Scotia:

14 November 1896 to 23 October 1897


24 October 1897 to 8 November 1901

Halifax, Nova Scotia:

9 November 1901 to 17 December 1902


18 December 1902 to 29 October 1907


30 October 1907 to 29 November 1910


30 November 1910 to 8 August 1914

British Expeditionary Force France:

9 August 1914 to 4 July 1918


5 July 1918 to 24 August 1918

WO I Harlin was discharged on the 24th of August 1918 after being classified as no longer physically fit for War Service. He was 41 years old at the time of his discharge.

For his service in the Great War of 1914-1918, Harlin was awarded the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal as well as the Silver War Badge, No. 441479. He also was awarded the French Medaille Militaire for his service during the war. His award of this French decoration was announced in the London Gazette dated the 24th of February 1916. He was also the recipient of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

In his service papers John Harlin listed his mother, Mary Anne Meigh, and his two brothers Henry Francis and William Joseph Patrick. Henry Francis is listed as deceased in the Royal Engineers.

ADDENDUM NO. 6: The Conquer Family

The following information regarding the Conquer family was supplied by Mr. Desmond Davey.

1. 1861 Census of England.

The census return for St. Andrews, Plymouth, Devonshire shows that Robert Conquer, aged 44 years, was born in Scotland and was a Chelsea Pensioner in 1861. The census shows his wife as Tryphena Conquer, aged 34 years, born locally. They had a son Robert Conquer, aged 9 years, born in Ireland.

Army Births and Baptisms in the Overseas section shows the following:

Mary A. Conquer born at Limerick, Ireland in 1847.

Robert Conquer born at Tralee, Ireland in 1852.

Ellen Conquer born at Templemore in 1853.

Tryphenia Conquer born at Devonport, Devonshire in 1855.

Edward Conquer born at Stoke Dameral in 1857.

All were listed twice, once in the 11th Regiment of Foot (later the Devonshire Regiment) and once in the 46th Regiment of Foot (later the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry).

2. 1871 Census of England.

The census return for St. Andrews, Plymouth, Devonshire shows that Richard Conquer, aged 54 years, was born in Scotland and was a Chelsea Pensioner in 1871. The census shows his wife as Tryphena Conquer, aged 44 years, born locally. Their son Robert Conquer, aged 19 years, does not appear in this census as he is probably serving in the Royal Engineers. Their son Frederick, aged 2 years, is shown in the census as having been born in Plymouth.

3. 1881 Census of England

The census return for St. Andrews, Plymouth, Devonshire shows that Richard Conquer, aged 65 years, was born in Scotland and was a Chelsea Pensioner in 1861. The census shows his wife as Tryphena Conquer, aged 55 years, born locally. Their son Frederick Conquer, aged 13 years, is still living with them. In 1881 the Conquers must have lived in a fairly big house. The census shows that they had several lodgers and visitors at the time. Two of the lodgers are men serving in the Royal Engineers as Telegraph Clerks manning a station at Plymouth or Devonport.

Robert Conquer, the oldest son of Richard and Tryphena, appears on the census for the School of Military Engineering at Chatham with his wife and children.

In 1882 Tryphena Conquer died in Plymouth at the age of 55 years. No record of Robert Conquer has been found after 1881. He may have become an In-Pensioner at Chelsea after his wife's death.

On the 5th of July 1890 Frederick Conquer, aged 23 years, married Georgina Nicholas. He was a Corporal in the Royal Engineers at the time.



  1. AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION. The Complete Atlas of Britain. The Automobile Association, Basingstoke, 1979.
  2. BARNETT, C. Britain and Her Army, 1509-1970. William Morrow & Company, New York, 1970.
  3. BORASTON, J.H. and BAX, C.E.O. The Eighth Division in War, 1914-1918. The Medici Society Limited, London, 1926.
  4. CONOLLY, T.W.J. Roll of Officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers From 1660 to 1898. The Royal Engineers Institute, Chatham, Kent, 1898.
  5. INSTITUTION OF ROYAL ENGINEERS. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume V. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.
  6. INSTITUTION OF ROYAL ENGINEERS. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume VII. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.
  7. KERRY, A.J. & Mc DILL, W.A. The History of the Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, 1749-1939. Volume I. The Military Engineers Association of Canada, Ottawa, 1962.
  8. MACDONALD, L. They Called It Passchendaele. Michael Joseph, London, 1979.
  9. MORLING, L.F. Sussex Sappers. W.J. Offord & Son, Ltd., 1967.
  10. PAKENHAM-WALSH, R.P. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, 1938-1948. Volume VIII. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1958.
  11. WAR OFFICE. Official History of the War, Military Operations, France and Belgium, 1915. Macmillan and Co., Ltd., London, 1928.
  12. WATSON, C.M. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume III. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1954.

Census Data

  1. 1881 British Census, Family History Library Film 1341185, Public Record Office Reference RG11, Piece 0786, Folio 4, Page 11.
  2. 1891 British Census, Public Record Office Reference RG12/955, Folio 37, Page 3.
  3. 1891 British Census, Public Record Office Reference RG12/2600, Enumeration District 11, Folio 130, Page 6.

Computer Software

Soldiers Died in the Great War. The Naval & Military Press Ltd., Heathfield, East Sussex, 1998.


  1. Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage (E.N. Davey to E.M. Despicht), MX 577294, General Register Office, London, copy dated 24 August 1979.
  2. Certified Copy of an Entry of Death (Ernest Nicholas Davey), QDX 026105, General Register Office, London, copy dated 12 January 1979.
  3. Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth (James Davey), BXA 528124, General Register Office, London, copy dated 14 January 1980.
  4. Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage (James Davey to E.M. Nicholas), MX597425, General Register Office, London, copy dated 10 January 1980.
  5. Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage (William Mair Dadswell to Rebecca Sarah Nicholas), MXB 881991, General Register Office, London, copy dated 11 January 2005.
  6. Certified Copy of an Entry of Death (Joseph Nicholas), DYA492837, General Register Office, London, copy dated 29 November 2004.
  7. Service Papers of 1872 Private Joseph Nicholas, 28th Foot consisting of a) Proceedings of a Regimental Discharge Board, b) Detailed Statement of Service, and c) Final Description on Discharge.
  8. Service Papers (War Office files WO97/2625) of 9916 RQMS James Davey, R.E. consisting of a) Enlistment Paper, b) Attestation of the Recruit. c) Medical History, d) Record of Service, and e) Military History Sheet.
  9. Service Papers of 8218 CSM William James Davey, R.E. consisting of a) Enlistment Paper, b) Attestation of the Recruit, c) Record of Service and d) Military History Sheet.
  10. Service Papers of 1850614 Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant Frank Davey, R.E. consisting of a) Soldier's Name and Description on Attestation, b) Services Abroad, c) Promotions and Reductions in Rank and d) Certificate of Discharge.
  11. Service Papers of (15495) 1852013 Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant Jim Davey, R.E. consisting of a) Descriptive Return of Soldier on Discharge (Army Form D.400), b) Military History Sheet and c) Statement of Service (Army Form B.200).
  12. Service Papers of 14467090 Staff Sergeant Desmond Davey, R.E. consisting of a) Enlistment Notice (Army Form B. 271A), b) Appendix to Recruiting Instruction No. W/279 and c) Regular Army Certificate of Service (Army Form B. 108), including:

(a) Description of Soldier on leaving Army Service.
(b) Assessments of Military Conduct and Character.
(c) Education and Trade Record.
(d) Record of Service.
(e) Medal Entitlements.
(f) Certificate of Discharge

Correspondence (in chronological order)

  1. Postcard from Frank Davey to Jim Davey, dated Gibraltar, 23 December 1908.
  2. Postcard from Jim Davey to J. Davey, Wimbledon Park, London S.W., dated Karachi, 11 April 1919.
  3. Postcard from Jim Davey to J. Davey, Wimbledon Park, London S.W., dated Deolali, India, 13 July 1919.
  4. Frank Davey to the editor of The Sapper, 1937.
  5. Army Pay Office to the author, dated 15 January 1979.
  6. Mr. Alan W. Rolfe to the author, dated 20 January 1979.
  7. Mrs. Jean Roberts to the author, dated 24 April 1979.
  8. British Information Services, New York to the author, dated 21 May 1979.
  9. Evesham Town Council to the author, dated 3 July 1979.
  10. The Army Medal Office to the author, dated 9 July 1979.
  11. The Royal Engineers Museum to the author, dated 31 July 1979.
  12. Mrs. Jean Roberts to the author, dated 7 August 1979.
  13. Mr. Alan W. Rolfe to the author, dated 4 September 1979.
  14. The Royal Artillery Museum to the author, dated 9 October 1979.
  15. The Army Records Centre to the author, dated October 1979.
  16. Mrs. Jean Roberts to the author, dated 24 February 1980.
  17. Email from Desmond Davey to the author, 5 January 2005.
  18. Desmond Davey to the author, dated 8 January 2005.
  19. Email from Desmond Davey to the author, 14 January 2005.
  20. Email from Desmond Davey to the author, 16 February 2005.
  21. Emails from Desmond Davey to the author, 24 February 2005.
  22. Emails from Desmond Davey to the author, 27 February 2005.
  23. Email from Desmond Davey to the author, 23 March 2005.
  24. Email from Desmond Davey to the author, 4 April 2005.
  25. Email from Desmond Davey to the author, 9 April 2005.


  1. Half-Yearly Army List, 1922, War Services.
  2. London Gazette, 1 January 1918.
  3. Monthly Army List, June 1919.
  4. Monthly Army List, December 1920.
  5. Monthly Army List, June 1926.
  6. The Quarterly Army List, April 1944.
  7. The Royal Engineers Journal, September 1929.
  8. The Royal Engineers Journal, September 1945.
  9. The Royal Engineers Monthly List, October 1905.
  10. The Royal Engineers Monthly List, December 1905.
  11. The Royal Engineers Monthly List, October 1910.
  12. The Royal Engineers Monthly List, January 1912.
  13. The Royal Engineers Quarterly List, January 1930.
  14. The Royal Engineers Quarterly List, April 1935.
  15. The Royal Engineers List, 1943.
  16. The Sapper, September 1929.
  17. The Sapper, January 1933.
  18. The Sapper, March 1977.


[1] According to his birth certificate, Ernest Nicholas Davey's birth was registered in the District of Farnham, in the Sub-district of Formby, in the Counties of Surrey and Southampton on the 2nd of January 1889.

[2] Other officers in the 48th Fortress Company included: Captain D. Brady, Lieutenant F.G. Hood and Lieutenant A. St. J. Yates.

[3] The 1891 British Census, Public Record Office Reference RG12/2600, Registration district: Horncastle, Sub-registration district: Tattershall, Enumeration district 11, Folio 130, Page 6 shows the following information for the Despicht family:

and Surname

Relation to Head of Family

Condition as to Marriage

Last Birthday

Profession or Occupation

Where Born

Henry R. Despicht




Teacher (elementary school) Marylebone, London
Mary A. Despicht




Teacher (elementary school) Stratford, London
Florence A. Despicht




  Wildmore, Lincolnshire
Elsie M. Despicht




  Wildmore, Lincolnshire
Margaret E. Despicht




  Wildmore, Lincolnshire

[4] MACDONALD, L. Commentary of 2273 Driver J. Mc Pherson, "C" Battery, Royal Field Artillery.

[5] According to the extract of his service record, Sergeant Davey did not return to France until the 29th of November 1918; that is, 18 days after the Armistice was declared. In 1979 when the Army Records Centre at Hayes, Middlesex provided service papers at the request of next of kin, they only supplied typewritten extracts of the records. Someone at the Army Records Centre reviewed the soldier's service papers and then typed out the details that were felt to be important. The author has noted that these transcriptions often contained errors in dates. For that reason, the date of Sergeant Davey's return to the front is in doubt.

[6] ROBERTS, J. Letter of 24 February 1980. Mrs. Roberts remembers being told that Sergeant Davey had been gassed and that his throat had been badly affected. He was never able to smoke because of this.

[7] Durham Light Infantry.

[8] From Major Hillman's personal account, written in February 1919 after his release by the Germans.

[9] If the extract of Davey's record supplied by the Army Records Centre is correct, Davey was back with the 15th Field Company on the 29th of November 1918.

[10] These medals are in the author's collection.

[11] This medal also is in the author's collection.

[12] Territorial Army.

[13] This medal is in the author's collection.

[14] These medals also are in the author's collection.

[15] The 1881 British Census shows James Davey's year of birth as 1850.

[16] James Davey's birth was registered in the District of St. Lukes, in the Sub-district of Old Street, in the County of Middlesex on the 5th of October 1848.

[17] See Good Conduct Pay.

[18] See Certificates of Education.

[19] See Marriage Of Soldiers During The Victorian Period.

[20] 1872 Private Joseph Nicholas, 20th Regiment of Foot served in the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. His medal entitlements include the Crimean War Medal with clasps [ALMA][INKERMANN][SEBASTOPOL], the Indian Mutiny Medal with clasp [LUCKNOW], the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, and the Turkish Crimean Medal. Nicholas was born in Billericay, Essex in 1819. He died at Brompton, Kent on 10 July 1884 at the age of 65.

[21] Marriage Certificate of James Davey and Emily Frances Nicholas.

[22] See Re-Engagement In The Regular Army.

[23] His service papers do not indicate when he received Good Conduct Pay at 3d per day.

[24] Public Record Office Reference RG12/955. Registration district: Hartley Wintney. Sub-registration district: Farnborough. Institution: Staff, Headquarters and Garrison. Folio: 37. Page: 3.

[25] See Good Conduct Pay.

[26] See Marriage Of Soldiers During The Victorian Period.

[27] Engineer Clerk Quartermaster Sergeant.

[28] See Engineer Recruit Training.

[29] See Establishment for Engineer Services.

[30] DAVEY, D., letter of 8 January 2005.

[31] The Q.A.I.M.N.S. was the forerunner of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps.

[32] Women's Royal Naval Service.

[33] Army records indicate his date of birth as 1 September 1891.

[34] This rather clumsily worded entry is found in his Statement of Services. Its meaning is not quite clear; however, it appears that Jim Davey found some advantage to not having his forfeited service restored to him at this time in his career.

[35] The Regimental Seniority List for the Establishment for Engineer Services published in The Sapper of September 1929 (page 52) shows that at that time ECQMS Davey was serving at Catterick Camp.

[36] In the 1980s, Jim Davey's medals were in a private collection in New York City.

[37] A copy of this letter was provided to the author in January 2005 by Desmond Davey, the son of Frank Davey.

[38] This man is thought to be 21514 Company Sergeant Major W.G.G. Nicholas, R.E. CSM Nicholas was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal by Army Order dated 1 January 1900.

[39] Army Lists show this man's name to be William Moir Dadswell (not Dodswell). His marriage license indicates that he married Rebecca Sarah Nicholas on 19 June 1872 in the parish church of Gillingham, Kent. At the time of their marriage he was a 25-year old Corporal in the Royal Engineers. Dadswell was appointed to the rank of Lieutenant (Quartermaster) in the Royal Engineers on 25 April 1885. He died at Chatham, Kent on 19 January 1890 at the age of 43.

[40] The surname here is in error. It should be Dadswell, not Dodswell. 26859 Corporal P. Dadswell served in the South African War of 1899-1902 and was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal for his participation in that war. This medal was on the market in Canada in 1979. Another Dadswell who served with the Corps may have been the father of Corporal P. Dadswell and Corporal R. Dadswell. That man is 5894 Quartermaster Sergeant H.J. Dadswell, R.E., who served in the Zulu War of 1879. His medal for this campaign was on the market in England in 1988, along with his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

[41] This man is thought to be 25614 Company Sergeant Major J.G. Harlin, R.E. CSM Harlin was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal by Army Order dated 1 January 1900. ERRATA: Subsequent research by Desmond Davey has determined that the CSM Harlin referred to in Frank Davey's letter was not 25614 Sergeant John Gerald Harlin, R.E.

[42] W.J.P. Harlin was serving in the ranks at the start of the Great War of 1914-1918. He served in France and Belgium for a very short period, from 14 to 16 October 1914. He was appointed a Temporary Quartermaster with the rank of Lieutenant on 28 September 1916. The War Services List of 1922 shows that his war service extended from 1914 to 1921 and that he was awarded the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. On 7 July 1925 he was posted as Quartermaster to the 26th (London) Anti-Aircraft Battalion (London Electrical Engineers). He and Ernest Nicholas Davey served in the Anti-Aircraft establishment during the same period.

[43] 25894 Sergeant Jim Pears Russell, Royal Engineers married Margaret Ellen Nicholas in the parish church at Brompton, Kent on 25 July 1877. Russell was 22 years old at the time and Margaret was a 20-year old spinster. Jim Russell died at the age of 97.

[44] Desmond Davey, who has done a considerable amount of genealogical research on his family, indicates that his grandmother only had five sisters, who were married to Harlin, Dadswell, Russell and possibly Mee and one of the Conquers. He suspects that his father was in error when he wrote that his mother had three brothers in law name Conquer.

[45] One of these men is 11696 Band Sergeant Robert Conquer, R.E. He was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal by Army Order dated 1 January 1887. Another of the men is Band Sergeant A. Conquer, R.E. According to an article in The Sapper of January 1933 (page 149), both of these men were ex-members of the band at that time. They attended the Royal Engineers Band Fifth Annual Reunion held at the Ghuznee Fort Hotel in Gillingham, Kent on 11 December 1932.

[46] Band Sergeant F. Conquer also attended the R.E. Band Fifth Annual Reunion as described in the preceding endnote.

[47] Frank Davey is referring here to Captain William George Dean, R.E. and Captain Henry James Dean, R.E. The medals of both of these men are in the author's collection, as are the medals of their father, 4258 Sapper George Dean, R.E. Their grandfather, 312 Sergeant William Dean, also served in the Royal Engineers.

[48] According to family history it is thought that her grandfather probably signed the marriage certificate as her father.

[49] Evelyn Edmonson was an Army Schoolmistress Jim met at Chatham in 1916.

[50] Henry is thought to have served in the Tank Corps and was invalided out of the Army.