Davis, Henry Stanley (Captain, b.1889 - d.1917)

Unit 46th Australian Infantry Battalion
Accession Number 2DRL/0547
Collection type Private Record
Record type Collection
Measurement 1 wallet: 3cm
Object type Diary, Letter, Map
Maker Davis, Henry Stanley
Place made At sea, Belgium, Egypt, France, United Kingdom: England
Date made 1915-1917
Access Open
Related File This file can be copied or viewed via the Memorial’s Reading Room. AWM93 12/11/3603
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copying Provisions Copying is permitted for the purposes of research and study, subject to physical condition

Collection relating to the First World War service of Captain Henry Stanley Davis, 46th Infantry Battalion. Collection consists of typescript extracts of letters written by Davis to his family during 1916-1917. They describe: conditions in Egypt, including the sand, heat and flies; repairing and manning trenches in the Suez Canal area; the capture of an enemy post; Turkish and German prisoners of war; Turkish attacks on the line; German artillery barrages; air warfare; the British fighter pilot Christopher Draper, also known as the 'Mad Major'; instruction in the art of trench warfare on the Western Front; coming out of the line at Pozieres; descriptions of artillery bombardments and their effect on the men; comparison of the German soldier to the Allied soldier; commendation of the work of stretcher bearers, and one in particular named 'Cassidy'; commendation of the work of runners; the mental and physical exhaustion from fighting on the Somme; Davis’ experience and actions during the battle of Pozieres; observations on the condition of the men; the new Australian divisions living up to the Anzac name on the Somme; promotion to lieutenant; observations on the French people; return to the front line; disappointment in the failure of the conscription vote and comments from other soldiers on the issue; weather conditions; role as second in command of 'C' Company; the death of Captain Francis Ormond Purnell and Davis being left in command of company; concussion from shell fire; trench foot and frost bite in the trenches; and training reinforcements.

With these letters is included is a letter of condolence from Brigadier James Campbell Robertson, commanding officer of the 12th Infantry Brigade, to Davis’ father on 22 April 1917. It comments on Davis’ qualities as a courageous and trustworthy officer, and his manner of death during the first battle of Bullecourt on the morning of 11 April 1917.

Also included are two diaries.
The first diary covers the period 18 October 1915 to 25 January 1917 and describes: embarkation from Australia with the 14th Battalion; troopship voyage aboard HMAT Port Lincoln; the death at sea of Private Malvern Arthur Wade; arrival and training in Egypt; the allotment of 6th Infantry Brigade officers from the reinforcements; sightseeing, including the pyramids; battalion drills and route marches; transfer to the 46th Battalion; promotion to lieutenant; training schools; list of parade and meal hours; the havoc caused by the heat and sandstorms; taking over the trenches in the Suez Canal area; trench routine and details; commemorating the first anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli; observations of the Turkish Army; grenadier training; voyage in early June to France aboard the armed merchant cruiser Kinfauns Castle; the wet weather and mud in France; French villages and people; 6th Infantry Brigade school; trenches on the Western Front; movement into the front lines at Pozieres; involvement in the fighting at Pozieres; observations at Mouquet Farm; service in and out of the line in late 1916; leave to London; shell shock; and 4th Division school.

The second diary covers the period 1 January to 4 April 1917 and describes: 4th Division school at La Chaussée; training; cold weather, including snow; leave to London and sightseeing.

A sketch map, which is a copy of one used by the Graves Commission in an unsuccessful attempt to locate Davis’ grave near Bullecourt, is also included in the collection. It contains written directions and also depicts the movements of the 46th Battalion companies during the first battle of Bullecourt on 11 April 1917. The Australians were forced to retreat during the battle and the Germans retook the ground upon which Davis was killed, likely burying him soon after. Later attempts to locate Davis’ grave were unsuccessful and this copy was sent to his father.