National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

Voices From Napier – Francis Herbert Davis

An example of a Distinguished Conduct Medal

An example of a Distinguished Conduct Medal

Following on from the last story on Edward Weber, Francis was another Napier Boys High School Old Boy who served in World War I.

Francis was born 23rd February 1893 in Dannevirke, and then attended Napier Boys High.

His occupation in 1915 was a clerk in Napier, he was 22 years old and single and nominated his mother, Mrs Alice Davis of Railway Yards, Napier as his next-of-kin on his enlistment details.

He enlisted on 12th October 1915 and embarked on the 5th February 1916 on the troopship “Ulimaroa” bound for Suez. He started off as 26/299 Rifleman (Private) Davis but within 18 months he had risen to the rank of Company Sergeant Major.

He received a Mentioned in Despatches (MID) from general Sir Douglas Haig on the 9th April 1917 just before being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM).

His DCM citation from the London Gazette 16 August 1917 reads: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He did especially valuable work in assisting in organising and directing the operation when all his company officers except one had been wounded. He set a fine example of personal courage and energy.”

His MID citation from the London Gazette 1 June 1917 reads: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During a raid on night of 22/23rd February 1917, at St Yves Hill, under heavy bombardment, he kept his Lewis gun in action, firing SOS lines. On the night of 8th Fenruary 1917, in the Cordonnerie Sector, when the enemy attempted a raid under cover of an intense bombardment, Sergeant Davis kept his Lewis gun in action throughout the bombardment, firing on SOS lines and materially assisted in the repulse of the enemy.”

He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in early May 1918 and returned to New Zealand 27th May 1919 on the troopship “Tahiti” before being discharged on 3rd August 1919. He re-enlisted as a Captain in the New Zealand  Home Guard from August 1941 to January 1944.

Francis died in Napier on 7th Novembet 1970, aged 77.