Walter John DAVIES

Photo by Gordon Davies

Life story retold by Gordon Davies

Essentially this is the grave of Walter John Davies and family. The BFHS Monument Inscription record/CD lists 6 names:

ELIZABETH PEARCE JAMES (died 23 January 1913, aged 81/ also of her daughter FLORENCE ESTHER DAVIES who died Dec 20 1926 aged 65/ and of DAVID JAMES DAVIES, her son, born Aug 1 1897, killed in action at Ypres July 31 1917/ also of GERTRUDE SUSANNA JAMES called to rest Dec 14 1931 aged 64/ WALTER J. DAVIES and his wife ROSA.

Walter was born 26th March 1864 in Newbury.  He was the 7th son of James Jeremiah Davies, the founder of the china and glassware shop in Northbrook Street, Newbury.  Walter moved to Reading in December 1898 and opened a large branch of the china shop at 32 Market Place.  The family lived above the shop. He kept that shop until his retirement.

Photo of Mr Walter John Davies from his obituary

He married Florence Esther James on 4th August 1887 and had 3 children, Florence Bessie Davies, Esther Madeline Davies and David James Davies. The two daughters moved away from Reading to open a B&B in Devon.  Walter’s wife Florence Esther died in 1926 and he remarried, Rosa Elizabeth Barnett in 1928.

Walter was predeceased by his 3 children and by both his wives. 

David was born on 1st August 1897.  He attended Kendrick Boys School and Reading School where he excelled in his studies.  He became Captain of School and rugby captain.  He matriculated at Trinity College Oxford on 15th October 1915 to study ‘the Greats’,ie Classics. At the end of his first term in December 1915 he signed up with the army for service in the First World War.  After basic training he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the ‘Machine Gun Corps – Heavy’, the forerunner of the Tank Corps.  He became a Tank Commander and saw action at the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).  His tank was hit by two shells from an anti-tank gun and he was killed along with his driver.  It was 31st July 1917, the day before his 20th birthday.  His body was never identified and he is remembered on the Menin gate memorial in Ypres.  He is also remembered on the memorials of Reading School, Trinity College Oxford and Abbey Baptist Church Reading, formerly Kings Road Baptist Church. A full history of David is available with Berkshire Family History Society library.

Walter died on Saturday 28th January 1950. He was 85 years old. His funeral took place on Wednesday 1st February at King’s Road Baptist Church, Reading where he attended regularly and was for a long period deacon.

His obituary reports: “The death occurred on Saturday at his home 196, Henley Road, Caversham.In 1901 he joined the Reading Temperance Society, and eventually became vice-president. He played an active part when the Palmer Hall was enlarged some years ago. At one time, Mr Davies was chairman of the Reading Chamber of Commerce. He also became president of the Reading Sunday School Union and served on the local committee of the Royal Show in 1926.

Perhaps Mr Davies was best known for his work in connection with the Reading Trustee Savings Bank. In 1899 he was appointed an honorary manager and later became a trustee. He was elected to the committee of management. of which he served as chairman from 1936-1945. In 1946 he was appointed vice-president.

In his leisure time Mr Davies was a keen gardener and took an interest in woodwork. He came of a musical family and possessed a pleasing baritone voice.”

Photo taken by Gordon Davies

The grave also commemorates Elizabeth Pearce James, the mother-in-law of Walter John, who died in 1913, Florence Esther Davies, Walter’s first wife, who died in 1926, Gertrude Susannah James, younger sister of Florence, who died in 1931.  His second wife Rosa died in 1949, a year before Walter.  

Buried in Section 33, Row A, Number 10