Maurice was born in 1892 at Stoke Fleming and had 5 sisters and 7 brothers. He was the son of Mrs Sophie Emily Davis ( nee Tope) and the late Mr Richard Henley Treeby Davis of California, Modbury, where they had moved from the family farm at Strete, near Dartmouth. They farmed at California and ran the California Inn.
He enlisted as a private in the 1st Devon Yeomanry and was attached to 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment. In June 1917 the Battalion moved north to Ypres as part of 23 Bde, in 8 Div, in 2 Corps or 5th Army and prepared for an offensive due to start on 31st July, the 3rd Battle of Ypres – Passchendaele. At 0350 on the 31st July, the 2nd Devons attacked from Railway Wood. That morning their Colonel was killed and 12 of their 20 officers and 230 of their men were killed or wounded. On 1st August they repulsed a determined German counter-attack.
The Battalion was also in the front line at the start of the Battle of Langemarck (16-18 Aug). The British attack was an advance in stages to keep the infantry well under the protection of the field artillery. The Corps objective was an advance of about 1700 yards to form a defensive flank. The Division was to attack with 2 brigades between Westhoek and the Ypres-Roulers railway to the rise east of the Hanebeek stream. At 0445 the creeping barrage began and the British troops advanced. The 2 brigades started well behind an ‘admirable’ barrage and reached Hanebeek, where the hand bridges were used to cross it and continue the advance.
Due to difficulties on the flanks, the Germans were able to enfilade the area of the 8th Div but after a long fight, in which the Battalion suffered another 93 casualties, they captured the redoubts on the rise beyond the Hanebeek, and then sent parties over the ridge. Counter attacks by the Germans started at 0700 but the area was under British artillery observation and the attack was stopped by massive artillery fire.
The German response of increased bombardment isolated the British battalions from reinforcement and resupply and the SOS calls from the British infantry were not seen due to low cloud and smoke shells fired by the Germans. An observation by a British aircraft failed to give sufficient information to help the artillery which did not fire until too late at 1015. Further German attacks in the afternoon increased pressure on the flanks and the Germans ‘dribbled’ forward and pressed the British infantry back to the foot of Westhoek Ridge. That evening the British withdrew to ground just forward of their start line. Maurice Davies was killed on 16 August and has no known grave. He is remembered on the Tyne Cot memorial, Panel 38-40 and on a memorial in the North Huish Church. The bodies of British Soldiers on land taken by the enemy were frequently never recovered.
|Where Born:||Stoke Fleming|
|Address:||Lived in Woodbury|
|Next of Kin:||Son of Mrs S E Davis and the late Mr R H Davis, California, Modbury, Devon|
|Unit||1st Devon Yeomanry attached to 2nd Bn Devonshire Regt|
|Died On:||16th August 1917|
|Memorial:||Tyne Cot Panel 38-40|