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Charles Davies (1878-1919)

Shildon railway worker who served with the 19th Hussars

Charles was born around 1877 in Darlington, the eldest child of Richard and Elizabeth Harriet Davies. Elizabeth had previously been married to Metcalf Henderson before his death in 1872. She married Charles’ father Richard on 2 September 1875.

At the time of the 1881 census Charles was living in Darlington with his parents, his two younger siblings and five step-siblings from Elizabeth’s previous marriage. Elizabeth died in 1885 when Charles would have been seven years old. At the time of the census in 1891 Charles was living with his stepsister Elizabeth and her family in Darlington. Charles’ younger sister Georgina was also living in this household.

Charles first enlisted on 6 November 1899 and fought with the 13th Hussars in South Africa. After being transferred to the army reserve he returned to the North East and began working as a coal miner. In 1911 Charles was living as a boarder in the household of his step brother Arthur William Henderson in South Shields.

From North Eastern Railway (NER) records we know that Charles began working as a striker on the railways around 1912. Having worked on the railways for two years he left the company on 4 August 1914, the day Great Britain declared war on Germany.

Charles’ First World War service began with the 14th Reserve Cavalry Regiment with whom he entered France with on 7 October 1914. Not long after his transfer, on 22 February 1915, Charles was admitted to hospital in Boulogne with a gunshot wound to his right leg. Having spent time in hospital and a convalescent camp in Rouen, it was decided Charles was no longer fit to serve in the Hussars due to his injuries. He was therefore transferred to serve with the cavalry section.

On 30 January 1918 Charles was reclassified to the medical category B3 which meant he was only fit for sedentary work. A few months later Charles was again admitted to hospital suffering with bronchitis. Following this admission he was transferred to England on 9 April 1918. The following day Charles was transferred to the 3rd Reserve Calvary Regiment at Aldershot before being finally discharged from the army on 2 September 1918.

Pension records describe Charles as suffering from ‘general disability and chronic bronchitis’. Despite this disability Charles returned to work on the railways on 6 September 1918, a few days after being discharged from the army. Charles died on 4 July 1919 and is buried in Darlington West Cemetery. It has not been possible to find the cause of his death and whether it was related to his disability or illness from his service.

Charles was awarded the Silver War Badge, awarded to men honourably discharged from the army due to illness or injury received during active service.

Civil Parish: Shildon

Birth date: 1877

Death date: 4-July-1919

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 16 Wales Street, Darlington (1881 Census)
8 Edwina Gardens, North Shields (1911 Census)
11 Diamond Street, New Shildon (Address on discharge, Service Records)

Religion: Church of England

Employment: Coal Miner (1911 Census)
Striker (NER Records)

Family: Parents: Richard L Davies, Elizabeth Harriet Davies
Siblings: Georgina Davies, William F. Davies
Step-siblings: Elizabeth Harriet Henderson, John S. Henderson, Joseph Henderson, Arthur Henderson, Metcalf Henderson

Military service:

14th Reserve Cavalry Division
19th Hussars
3rd Reserve Cavalry Regiment
Service Numbers 4710, 46422

Medal(s): 1914 Star
Victory Medal
British War Medal
Silver War Badge

Gender: Male

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham