2nd Lieutenant Wilfrid Allen Davis
|Date of Birth||11 January 1894|
|Age at Death||21|
|Date of Death||21 April 1915|
|Military Service||1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment|
|Merton Address||82 Worple Road, Wimbledon|
|Local Memorial||Wimbledon College|
Wilfrid Allen Davis was born in Ramsgate on 11 January 1894. He was the youngest child of Walter and Rosita Davis. The couple also had three older children, Vyvyan, Cyril and Rosita. Walter Davis was an employer working in the Explosives Trade. His wife was born in San Domingo in the West Indies, where her father worked in the Civil Service as a Consul. In 1901 the family lived at 28 Spencer Hill, Wimbledon. Well known for their philanthropic work with Catholic churches and schools, they were sufficiently affluent to be able to employ several servants and a Governess.
By 1911 the family had moved to 82 Worple Road, Wimbledon. Wilfrid’s eldest brother appears to have left home and his younger brother, Cyril, was working as a clerk at the Stock Exchange. Wilfrid was educated at Wimbledon College, Edgehill. He later attended Stonyhurst, an independent Catholic boarding school, where he studied Philosophy. He was described as having an amiable disposition and his cheery manner made him popular. A talented and industrious student, he specialised in mathematics and went on to Oxford in 1913, having won a scholarship to Jesus College. Whilst there, he was an active sportsman, representing the college both in rowing and lawn tennis.
Wilfrid joined the Oxford Universities Officers’ Training Corps as a private and was given a commission when war broke out. At first he was gazetted to the 4th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant, but on leaving for the front on January 26 1915, he was transferred to the 1st Battalion and went straight to the trenches. On the application for his Commission, he is described as being - 71 inches in height, 160lbs in weight, with hearing, vision and teeth – good. The application was signed by his father, as Wilfrid was under 21 years of age.
The 1st Battalion, East Surrey Regiment was involved in some of the major battles of 1914, including Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne. After barely three months in Belgium, 21 year old Wilfrid took part in the notorious battle of Hill 60, south of Ypres. British and French forces tried and ultimately failed to regain control of the strategically important hill using a combination of heavy bombardment, infantry assaults and tunnelling to detonate mines under the enemy line. Both sides were later accused of using poison gas and there were heavy losses.
Wilfrid was killed in action on 21 April 1915. He was the last surviving officer of his company, having seen seven others killed. The East Surreys held the crest of Hill 60 against heavy bombardment; having been ordered to retire to safer ground, they replied that ‘they had not budged an inch, and were not going to move.’
Wilfrid is one of 54,395 British and Commonwealth servicemen commemorated on stone panels in the Hall of Memory at the Menin Gate in Ypres. This is just one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders. His name also appears on a memorial panel in the ante-room to the chapel at Wimbledon College.