DAVIS, THOMAS EDWARD

GAZA WAR CEMETERY

Rank: Private
Service No: 200248
Date of Death: 26/03/1917
Age: 18
Regiment/Service: Essex Regiment “C” Coy. 1st/4th Bn.
Grave Reference XVIII. C. 8.
Cemetery GAZA WAR CEMETERY

Additional Information:

Born in 1898 at South Woodford, son of William George (Bootmaker) and Elizabeth Davis. His Father died in 1900 at the age of 59. 1901: the census shows Thomas aged 2 living with his widowed Mother and family at 4, Chatham Road, South Woodford. In 1905 his mother married James Bull, a Tea Market Clerk. 1911: Thomas was at school, and the family was still living at 4, Chatham Road. He enlisted at Loughton, and served with 1/4 Essex Regiment, the local Territorial Battalion. Sent out to the Middle East, he found himself in the line for the First Battle of Gaza. The 4, 5, and 6 Essex Battalions of 161 Brigade were not involved in the morning action, but occupied Mansura Ridge prepared to support 52 (Welsh) Division. The arrival of enemy reinforcements called them to readiness.

In front lay 3500 yards of open ground before the Turkish lines at Green Hill and the Labyrinth, with the highest Turkish position about 500 yards beyond that. Their orders were to capture and secure Green Hill, and 4 Essex held the position on the right flank. At about 16.00 troops began to advance without expected artillery support, each company in line of platoons as if on field maneuvers. About 1 mile from the Turkish lines machine guns began firing and men began falling. The Battalions then moved into open order and advanced almost at running pace, a single line about 1000 yards long.

Pausing to allow reinforcement from two reserve companies of 6 Essex, the men rushed the Turkish positions and took them at bayonet point. By 17.30 Green Hill had been taken, and by nightfall was occupied by what was left of 4 Essex, 5 Essex and 3 Companies of 6 Essex, who were busy adapting the Turkish positions against counter attack. But the machine guns had taken their toll.

The C.O. of 4 Essex, Lt. Col Jameson was mortally wounded about 200 yards from the objective, nine Officers were dead, and half the Battalion, 436 men, were casualties.

There was a certain level of confusion and lack of information at Brigade Headquarters, which resulted in 161 Brigade later being ordered to withdraw from Green Hill. Taking their wounded with some difficulty, by midnight on 26-03 what remained of the Brigade were back in the positions at Mansura Ridge which they had left during the late afternoon. Among the dead was Thomas Davis.

Memorial: Roll of Honour St Mary’s Church
Separate Folder: NO.
Principal Sources: Ancestry. Find my Past. Regimental History.
Qualification: Borough Resident.