Victoria Cross : Corporal Phillip Davey, 10 Battalion, AIF

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Merris
Accession Number RELAWM16837
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Award
Physical description Bronze
Location Main Bld: Hall of Valour: Main Hall: Defence to Offensive
Maker Hancocks
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Victoria Cross. Engraved reverse suspender with recipient's details; reverse cross with date of action.

History / Summary

Phillip Davey was born at Unley, Adelaide, on 10 October 1896 and was a horse driver before enlisting as private 1327 in the 10th Battalion in December 1914. He was invalided home from Gallipoli, but returned to his unit in France in 1916 before being accidentally wounded in March 1917 and gassed in October. In January 1918 he won the Military Medal. Remarkably, his two brothers received the same award.

At Merris, on 28 June 1918, Davey's platoon came under heavy fire and the commander was killed. Survivors sheltered in a ditch under almost point-blank fire from a German machine-gun. Davey launched a solo attack on the enemy until forced to return for more grenades. Attacking again, he killed the crew and captured the gun, then used it to mount a successful counter-attack until he was wounded. For his actions at Merris, Davey, originally recommended for a Distinguished Conduct Medal, was awarded the Victoria Cross. The initial recommendation reads:

'During daylight operations near MERRIS on June 28th, Corporal Davey’s platoon advanced 200 yds. and captured [a] portion of the German Line.
Whilst the platoon was digging in an enemy machine gun, which had been pushed forward under cover of a hedge, commenced firing from close range, inflicting heavy casualties and hampering work.
Corporal Davey moved forward alone and attacked the machine gun crew with hand grenades, putting half the crew out of action. Having used all available grenades he returned to the original jumping off trench and secured a further supply and again attacked the machine gun single handed.
The crew of this gun had meanwhile been reinforced, but Corporal Davey killed every member of it, eight in all, and captured the gun.
The whole of this action was performed in the face of a fierce point blank fire from the gun.
Corporal Davey then mounted the captured gun in the new post and used it in repelling a determined counter-attack, during which he was dangerously wounded in both legs, back and stomach.
Only the sheer valour and unconquerable determination of this N.C.O. saved his platoon from annihilation and made it possible to consolidate and hold a position of vital importance to the success of the whole operation.'

Davey's wounds were severe and effectively ended his active service. After the war he worked in the signals and telegraph branch of the South Australian Railways. He suffered for years with bronchitis and emphysema before his death on 21 December 1953.

Davey’s Victoria Cross is accompanied by the Military Medal, service medals for the First World War, and coronation medals for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.