Francis George Davis
Premier’s Anzac Spirit School Prize
by Annabel Collins, Loxton High School
Private Francis George Davis experienced one of the most horrific battles of the Great War, landing at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli Peninsula, at dawn on the 25th of April 1915. George was fortunate to have survived the battle of Gallipoli demonstrating the true values of Anzac spirit. The Anzac spirit is to not only celebrate and honour courage, selflessness and to fight for what you believe in but it is being able to sacrifice yourself for your country and fellow citizens. It requires our country to work strongly together and to provide a good sense of humour through good and bad times. These values have helped us citizens to be living in a country that provides freedom, security and an endless amount of opportunity. Our country will forever be in debt to those Australian soldiers like Francis Davis for they sacrificed everything for the lives we lead today.
Francis, commonly called George, led the typical childhood of a country boy. His upbringing would have prepared him for war, as he would have adapted more easily to the land during battle, proving to be a useful asset to the Australian Forces. As you can see in the document below Francis was born and raised in the town of Wallaroo, South Australia, son to Francis and May Davis and was surrounded by nine brothers and sisters. As a child, George attended Wallaroo Primary School and later became a blacksmith. Not only would George have learnt to be resilient and strong whilst being a blacksmith but his skills may have helped him throughout his duration in the war. Being the eldest in the family George required a lot of bravery which demonstrated Anzac spirit, to be the first to enlist for the war. He made his way to Adelaide on the 13th of January 1915 and was placed in the 10th Infantry battalion. The 10th Battalion
The 10th Infantry Battalion together with the 9th, 11th and 12th battalions they made the 3rd Brigade. Their mission was to train in Egypt and then fight the soldiers of Turkey. Unfortunately their sneak attack on the 25th of April, 1915 went terribly wrong, leaving the ANZAC’ s sitting ducks. What the ANZAC soldiers hoped to be a successful invasion did not occur due to the Turks hearing of their actions and placing themselves strategically up in the cliffs so they could gain an advantage on their enemies. Thousands of ANZAC soldiers lost their lives in the first few hours of the battle leaving the remaining outnumbered soldiers to fight the Turkish. 8,141 men died on the shores of Cape Helles before they even made their way up the cliffs. Most soldiers would have gained hatred towards their enemy but according to stories told George was proud to admit that he respected the Turkish soldiers, for they never decided to make sneak attacks on one another once they agreed upon truce. George always had the interests of his fellow soldiers before his own and his Anzac spirit such as bravery and selflessness was displayed when he sacrificed his own life for Vincent ‘Copper’
Palmer, a dear mate from his hometown of Wallaroo. Private Vincent Reginald Palmer also known as ‘Copper’ due to his bright redhair, had a similar rural upbringing to George, also growing up and living in the small South Australian town of Wallaroo. Like many country lads ‘Copper’always made sure to look out for his mates and stick together. He began his involvement in the war when he made the journey to Adelaide on the 12th of January 1915, to enlist. Like many South Australian soldiers, Vincent was placed in the 10th Battalion and was trained to fight at Gallipoli. Vincent survived the first few days of the battle but was severely injured and was left to die in a deep shell hole. Private Francis George Davis’s Anzac spirit was greatly displayed when he crawled in to ‘No Mans Land’ for six nights feeding and hydrating ] Vincent until he was well enough to be placed on Georges back and return safely to their trenches. George executed Anzac spirit for those six nights risking the possibility of being captured and made prisoner or dying a slow painful death like Vincent would have endured, if it were not for George. George was privileged enough to be considered for one of the most prestigious awards, The Victoria Cross. Unfortunately before his Corporal could tell the Army Sergeant the Corporal passed away leaving George nothing but Vincent’s life and his pride to remind him of the sacrifice he made.
Throughout the battle of Gallipoli George experienced injuries much like many of the other soldiers but nothing would stop him from fighting for his country. At one stage of his participation in the war George suffered the near loss of one of his legs. He was repatriated to Eastbourne in England, where he was to recover and be prepped for the amputation of his leg, this often resulting with infection and usually death. A French doctor performed a radical surgery on his leg replacing his severely damaged nerve with the nerve of a dog. Within a few months George was back on his feet and ready to show his Anzac spirit once more. After the withdrawal from Gallipoli the 10th Battalion returned to Egypt and made their way to France in 1916 to continue the fight against ‘the Hun’. The 10th Battalion were known for their bravery and courage and were nicknamed ‘The Fighting 10th’.
Georges mother and father did not only have one son involved in the war but they were soon to have two of their boys fighting. In the year of 1916 Reginald, George’s younger brother made the brave decision to enlist with the 27th Battalion. Our family is fortunate enough to have Reginald’s diary in our possession. After two years of being involved in the war and fighting numerous battles Reg was killed in action on the 28th of May 1918 in the country of France. He fought fearlessly on the Western front demonstrating the values of a true ANZAC soldier. George accomplished enormous amounts of strength never giving in hoping that his achievements would make his brother proud.
Later in the year of 1918 George returned home. He was lucky enough to have returned with nothing but a scar on his thigh, a limp and the loss of his younger brother. In his hometown of Wallaroo he had gained the respect of the town’s citizens and was given the nickname of ‘Bravery Davis’. Private Francis George Davis exemplified all that the Anzac spirit means to me. He demonstrated camaraderie, bravery, adversity and determination, values that should not be taken for granted.In the years that followed the Great War, George married his beloved sweetheart Ethel Voysey of Moonta Mines. Their three children Barbara, Valda and youngest son Reginald grew up in the suburb of Dulwich, Adelaide. My grandfather Reginald was proudly named after George’s brother as he believed that Reginald’s fine legacy should continue to live on. I am proud to be related to both Private Francis George Davis and Private Reginald Walter Davis, as they have given me the opportunities I am provided with today as well as the freedom our country offers. I will forever be in debt to the thousands of Australian soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country and fellow loved ones.
The Anzac legacy continues to live on today through the Dawn services, parades, AFL Anzac day match as well as every day at the Australian War Memorial. I will never experience or understand, see or hear what George did but everyday I can be appreciative and thankful for his sacrifice. Before completing this essay I never truly understood what the Anzac values were. As a nation we exemplify Anzac spirit everyday by putting others before ourselves and never giving up when times get tough. l believe it is very important to honour and respect those men and women who participated and died in the war I am extremely proud to have been given the opportunity to tell the story of my Great Grandfather Private 1930 Francis George Davis. I believe he demonstrated true Anzac spirit.
For references please view this PDF Francis George Davis by Annabel Collins