Davis, Herbert
Davis, Herbert

[I am grateful to family member Hilda Heaton for information about Bert’s family background and the details surrounding his death].

Bert Davis was born in 1914.  As a child, he lived in Euxton at Rose Cottage with his mother Agnes and stepfather Harry – Bert’s father had tragically taken his own life when Bert was a boy. It seems Bert used his step-father’s surname, not his birth surname, so it has proved impossible to find more information about his family background from the Censuses. In 1936, Bert married Florence Dawson. They lived at School Lane, Lostock Hall, and in 1939 they had a daughter, Pat. Bert was a bus driver for the Ribble bus company. In 1940, Bert enlisted in the Army. He was a driver in the Royal Army Service Corps.  The RASC was a corps of the British Army responsible for land, coastal and lake transport, air despatch, barracks administration, the Army Fire Service, staffing headquarters' units, supply of food, water, fuel and domestic materials such as clothing, furniture and stationery and the supply of technical and military equipment.  Bert presumably joined the British Expeditionary Force which had landed in France in September 1939. They spent the winter and spring building defences along the border between France and Belgium, but these proved pathetically inadequate when the Germans launched their Blitzkrieg in May 1940. The German advance began on 10 May and they quickly occupied Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. By the end of the month the BEF was mainly trapped at Dunkirk. The evacuation of over 300,000 British, French and Belgian troops took place between 26 May and 6 June 1940.

Davis, Herbert

Evacuation from Dunkirk, 31 May 1940

Hilda Heaton tells me: “Bert got off the beach at Dunkirk with two other friends from his unit. On board ship the three of them went into the wash house to try and ‘put some metal between them and the enemy’ for protection. Unfortunately the ship was bombed and a piece of shrapnel tore through the ship and into the wash house. It passed by both of his friends but struck Bert, severely injuring him. The ship stayed afloat and made it across the Channel to Dover. Bert’s friends stayed with him to ensure he was taken safely to hospital. Florrie, his wife, was notified of his condition and advised to make provision to go and see him. Although she was fortunate to obtain a railway travel warrant from Fulwood Barracks, it took several days to arrive and all the while Bert’s condition was worsening.  When she arrived, she was led to the bedside of a soldier covered from head to foot in bandages, and told that it was Bert. She sat with him for twenty minutes, and realised that as she held his hand, it wasn’t Bert. Tragically, when she did finally find him, it transpired that he had died five minutes earlier. Florrie returned to Bert’s grave in Dover when she was 80 and was happy to see him buried in such a lovely setting.”

Rank: Driver

Service Number: T/95773

Unit/Regiment: Royal Army Service Corps

Date of death: 30/05/1940

Age: 26


Grave Reference: Row J. Grave 5.

Additional Information: Son of Harry and Agnes Davis, of Euxton, Lancashire.

Davis, Herbert