The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (6857) Lance Corporal George Campbell Davies, 27th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.323
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 18 November 2020
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Troy Clayton, the story for this day was on (6857) Lance Corporal George Campbell Davies, 27th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

6857 Lance Corporal George Campbell Davies, 27th Battalion, AIF
KIA: 29 June 1916

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal George Campbell Davies.

George Davies was born in Adelaide on 27 November 1895 to Harold and Ina Davies. His father was the first person in Australia to be awarded a doctorate in music, and went on to conduct extensive research into Indigenous music. He was the first conductor of the South Australian orchestra, and eventually became the Elder Professor of Music at the University of Adelaide.

George was described as a “sunny, happy little fellow”, who had “the power to create a cheery atmosphere” wherever he went. He was educated at Prince Alfred College, where he was successful both academically and as a sportsman. He was a prefect, captain of the sports team for three consecutive years, the winner of the college cup, a champion gymnast, and a member of the football team. He belonged to the Students’ Christian Union, and it was said that “his religious feeling … was so manifestly a part of his nature that all suggestion of insincerity died on the lips before it could be uttered with reference to him.” After finishing his education, George became a teacher at Prince Alfred College, and it was later said that “his frank, manly bearing enabled him to establish himself at once as a teacher of great promise.”

George Davies began teaching at the beginning of 1915, but in May, after one semester, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at the age of 19. He underwent a period of training in Australia before leaving for active service overseas with the 8th Field Ambulance in November 1915. He was first sent to Egypt, where he served for some time with the troops guarding the Suez Canal.

Private George Davies was interested in the local people wherever he went, and his open and easy nature made it easy for him to make friends with local kids. One Syrian child he met in Egypt continued sending him letters after he left for Europe, and George later sent home photographs of himself with French children he had made friends with in French villages.

In February 1916, while he was still in Egypt, Davies had used a personal connection to get himself transferred from the medical corps to the 27th Australian Infantry Battalion. He left Egypt with the battalion, arriving in France on 21 March 1916. Shortly afterwards he was promoted to lance corporal.

Soon after reaching France, the 27th Battalion went into the front line in a quiet sector near Armentieres to gain valuable experience of trench warfare conditions. On the night of 5 May Lance Corporal Davies came under fire while with a small scouting party in no man’s land. As the men took cover, George heard his lieutenant, John Ross, groaning. He was able to creep over to him and discover that Ross’s arm had been shattered. Nearby was Lance Corporal Gilbert Munday, mortally wounded.

Joined by Private Patrick Tymons, Davies worked to retrieve the wounded men from their position dangerously close to German lines. Davies helped Lieutenant Ross get back to his trenches, while Tymons remained with Munday, who was struggling and groaning in pain. Davies, having delivered Ross to safety, returned with a stretcher, and he and Tymons set to work to bring in Munday. At times they could carry him on a stretcher, at other times Davies had to carry him on his back. Although they were ultimately successful, Gilbert Munday eventually died of his wounds. George Davies and Patrick Tymons were awarded the Military Medal for their actions on that night.

Nearly two months later, on 29 June 1916, Lance Corporal Davies was once again a member of a party sent into no man’s land. This time it was a raiding party, and the battalion later reported that they “did some damage, killing 17 enemy and taking 4 prisoners”.

Four men were killed in the raid in the early hours of 29 June 1916, including Lance Corporal George Davies. His body was recovered from the battlefield, and today he lies in La Plus Douve Farm Cemetery in Belgium under the words “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”

At a memorial service held at Prince Alfred College a month after George’s death, the headmaster said “such as he could not resist the country’s call. He responded promptly and cheerfully; he gave himself up unreservedly to the demands of service, and died nobly. His life value cannot be computed in years. Its true value can best be expressed in lives influenced for good, and in such terms is priceless.”
George Davies was 20 years old.

His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among almost 62,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lance Corporal George Campbell Davies, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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