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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916

CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916

Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916

Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916

Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 22051 Joseph Davies

  • Age: 25
  • From: Birkenhead, Cheshire
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 20th Btn
  • K.I.A Monday 10th July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Bernafay Wood Brit Cem
    Panel Ref: L.1

Joseph was born in Birkenhead in the September quarter of 1890 and was the son of Mary Ann Hickson, as stated in Soldiers effects, his mother Mary Ann Davies married Charles Hickson in 1897 in Birkenhead.

According to the 1901/1911 census' Charles Hickson was born in Plymouth. There are no birth records for his step-father in Plymouth with that name, but in Plymouth 1871 a married Elizabeth Hickson has sons Frederick Genower 12, Charles Genower, Alfred Hickson 6 and daughter Anne Hickson 4. 

Charles moved up to the Wirral,  and married Mary Courtup in 1880 at St Peter's Church in Liverpool, and appears on the 1881 census at 5 Primrose Hill, Lower Bebington with wife Mary and child Lily May.

Mary Genower sadly died in 1891.

On the 1891 Census the Davies family are living at Meadow Place, Birkenhead. Head of household is, William, who is a 56 year old joiner born in Neston, his wifer Mary is 51 years old and was born in Liverpool. They have five children in the household; Mary A. 20 b.Neston, William 17 b.Birkenhead, Alice 16 soapworks b.Birkenhead, Emily 14 b.Birkenhead, and "son" Joseph aged 10 months born in Tranmere

The 1901 Census shows the family living at 29 Stanley Street, Birkenhead. - Step-father Charles 39 a general labourer b.Plymouth, mother Mary 30 b.Neston, with children Beatrice 17 housemaid b.Bebington, Emily 6 b.Birkenhead, Florence 3 b.Birkenhead and Joseph Davies 10  b.Birkenhead.

Mary Ann Davies has three more children, she seems to be married although the marriage record is for 1897.
Beatrice's birth not found but she married in 1903 as Beatrice Ellen aged 19, father Charles Henry Hickson.

The 1911 Census finds 20 year old Joseph as a single man working as a Corn broker's clerk. Father, Charles Henry, is 49 years old and a machinist for an iron stamper, mother Mary 40. Also present are Charles' widowed brother Frederick Charles Hickson 29 a marine fireman b.Rock Ferry, Emily Hickson daughter 16, Florence May Hickson daughter 13 and Florence Lily Hickson granddaughter aged 2 b.Carnarvon.  

Prior to his enlistment he was working as a cashier in the offices of Messrs Payne and Bouth. 

He enlisted in Liverpool in November 1914 joining the 20th Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment as Private 22051.

Formed in November 1914 the 20th Battalion were originally billeted at Tournament Hall, Knotty Ash before on 29th January 1915 they moved to the hutted accommodation purposely built at Lord Derby’s estate at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 19th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. He arrived in France on 7th November 1915 and earned his three medals.

On 10th July 1916 whilst serving in the 20th Battalion of The King's Liverpool Regiment as Private 22051 he was killed in action at Trones Wood.

The murderous fighting that went on inside Trones Wood rendered it impossible to put specific dates on some of the casualties. The conditions are best described in the following passage from Everard Wyrall’s book The History of The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) Volume II: 

The remembrance of Trones Wood in July 1916 to those who passed through it is of a noisome, horrible place, of a tangled mass of trees and undergrowth which had been tossed and flung about in frightful confusion by the shells of both sides. Of the ghastly dead which lay about in all directions, and of DEATH, lurking in every hole and corner with greedy hands ready to snatch the lives of the unwary. The place was Death trap, and although the attacks were made with great determination,   the presence of snipers who could not be detected and often fired into the backs of our men made the clearing of the wood impossible.

He now rests at Bernafay Wood British Cemetery near Montauban in Grave L 1.

Montauban village was taken by the 30th and 18th Divisions on 1 July 1916 and it remained in Commonwealth hands until the end of March 1918. It was retaken on 25 August 1918 by the 7th Buffs and the 11th Royal Fusiliers of the 18th Division. The Bois De Bernafay is a pear-shaped wood close to the east end of Montauban village. It was taken on 3 and 4 July 1916 by the 9th (Scottish) Division. On 25 March 1918, in the retreat to the Ancre, the same Division was driven from the wood but recaptured it for a time. On 27 August 1918 it was finally regained by the 18th Division. The cemetery was begun by a dressing station in August 1916 and used as a front-line cemetery until the following April. It contained at the Armistice 284 burials but was then increased when graves were brought in from Bernafay Wood North Cemetery and from the battlefields immediately east of the wood. BERNAFAY WOOD NORTH CEMETERY was opposite the North edge of the wood, a little East of the Longueval - Maricourt road. It was begun by an Advanced Dressing Station, and used from July to October 1916. It contained the graves of 80 soldiers from the United Kingdom and 1 German prisoner. Bernafay Wood British Cemetery now contains 945 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 417 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 11 soldiers known or believed to be buried here. Other special memorials commemorate 12 soldiers buried in Bernafay Wood North Cemetery whose graves were destroyed by shell fire. The cemetery was designed by Sir Herbert Baker.

His death was reported in the Birkenhead News on 29th July 1916 under the header:


Loss of an Only Son

Word was received on Monday last by Mrs Hickson, 29 Stanley-street, Lower Tranmere, that her only son, Private Joseph Davies, of the 20th Battalion of the King's Liverpool Regt. ("the Pals"), had fallen in action on the morning of July 11th. This intimation was made by Lance-Corporal A.S.Newall, who wrote very feelingly to express the sympathy of  the men of No.10 Section. The morning following the receipt of this sad message brought offical confirmation from the Army authotities. We quote the follwoing passage from Lance-corporal Newall's letter:-

"I was speaking to him a few minutes before his death,and at the time he was directing the throwing of the bombers. He was one of a party of six men in a bombing raid who were taking a redoubt, and he had done some glorious work. They had taken the trench and were moving the last few Bosches when he was sniped through the head. He did not suffer at all, dying instantly. He had done his duty nobly, and i trust this thought will help you in your loss."

Prior to his enlistment in the 20th Pals," "Joe" Davies was cashier in the Liverpool office of messrs. Payne and Routh. He was in his 25th year when he joined the 20th Service Battalion of the King's Liverpool's in November, 1914, and this battalion left for France just exactly twelve months later. He wrote uncomplainingly, indeed his letters were most optimistic in tone, always the welcome expressions of a cheerful disposition. Private Davies's last letter home is dated 7th July, and this epistle was posted the day before this promising young man was killed. In that letter he stated, "I am in perfect health and quite happy". He went on to remark, "We are all very comfortable and naturally delighted at our recent success." But little did he contemplate on what might follow when he wrote, "We will get this little job done before September easily." Mr.and Mrs.Hickson and family are deeply grieved at the great loss they have sustained, a loss which is made bearable by the solace afforded by the happy recolections of the dutifull conduct of a good and affectionate son and brother.

It is likely that Joseph died in the same action which took the life of 2nd Lt. M. A. Small MC.

Joseph's step-father Charles Henry, 265 Old Chester Road, died on 17th November 1930 -  Probate Chester 23rd December 1930 to Mary Ann Hickson widow.

On the 1939 register mother Mary A. Hickson is a widow (dob 11th November 1870) living at 46 Christchurch Road, Birkenhead. She died in June quarter of 1956, aged 85.

Killed On This Day.

(108 Years this day)
Tuesday 18th July 1916.
Pte 27346 John Mawdsley
34 years old

(106 Years this day)
Thursday 18th July 1918.
Cpl 106108 William Alexander Unsworth
38 years old