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Archibald Harold Davies. Private DEAL/2180/S, 63rd Royal Naval Division, Divisional Train.

Died 3 December 1918, aged 21.
Decorations: The British War Medal and The Victory medal.

Archie was the son of Joseph and Rachel Davies and lived with two brothers and five sisters at Brook Lane Cottage, Crick. Joseph was a shepherd working for Warlows of Manor Farm but he died at the age of 50 in 1913. The family therefore had to move out of the tied cottage but fortunately a Mrs Knight of Caldicot was able to offer them the tenancy of Fir Tree Cottage (now has the phone box outside) so they were able to stay in Crick.

Archie attended Caerwent school. He was of happy temperament, a good companion to his sisters and younger brothers. He was very partial to goose eggs. The children also found fresh eggs in the furrows of ploughed fields, which they took home and cooked, hoping not to find a chick inside. On leaving school he worked under his older brother Joe as a gardener at Caldicot Castle.

When war broke out he was determined to enlist. He may have falsified his age because his mother was furious and wrote to the War Office complaining that they should not have recruited a person so young. Thus he was trained at Crystal Palace, then stationed at Blandford, rather than being sent straight to the trenches.

He had enlisted to the Navy but he did not become a sailor. Although he had a sailor’s uniform, the photograph shows him dressed as Royal Marine Light Infantry. It seems that his role was in the supply train rather than the front line. However the front and back were often very close together! His first active service was at Gallipoli. Following the defeat there he was transferred to France in May 1916.

At last the war ended and he wrote to his mother rejoicing that he had survived the war, including probably three years in combat conditions, and had not even been injured. However it seems he may have suffered from the unduly harsh discipline within the army - he was close to the notorious Etaples Training Camp for much of his service.

He was billeted with six others in Belgium and awaiting transfer home. Then he fell ill and only three weeks after the war had ended, he died of pneumonia. Archie had just turned 21. He was buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery, a few miles south of Boulogne on the French coast.

His sister Cissie Roberts, who told me this story, died early this year at the age of 95 and her son looks considerably like his uncle Archie!

JN Oct 1999