Robert Davies (British Army officer)
Robert John Davies
|Born||3 October 1900|
|Died||27 September 1975 (aged 74)|
|Years of service||c. 1918|
|Battles/wars||First World War|
Second World War
Robert John Davies, GC (3 October 1900 – 27 September 1975) was a Royal Engineers officer who was awarded the George Cross (GC) for the heroism he displayed in defusing a bomb which threatened to destroy St Paul's Cathedral on 12 September 1940.
Davies was born in Newlyn, Cornwall, the son of John Sampson Davies of St Erth and Annie Vingoe. Davies had emigrated to Canada and joined the Canadian Army in 1918. He returned to Cornwall in the 1930s, and on 6 March 1940 was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, serving as a bomb disposal officer during the Blitz.
On the night 8/9 September 1940, a Luftwaffe air raid on the city of London resulted in an unexploded bomb landing very close to St Paul's Cathedral. The bomb was lodged 27 feet deep in Deans Yard (close to the west end of the cathedral) and took three days to dig out. It was placed on two lorries (joined in tandem) and Davies drove it through deserted streets to Hackney Marshes where it was safely destroyed.
The King has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the George Cross to the undermentioned:—
Temporary Lieutenant Robert Davies, Royal Engineers.
Lieutenant Davies was the officer in charge of the party detailed to recover the bomb which fell in the vicinity of St. Paul's Cathedral.
So conscious was this officer of the imminent danger to the Cathedral that regardless of personal risk he spared neither himself nor his men in their efforts to locate the bomb. After unremitting effort, during which all ranks knew that an explosion might occur at any moment, the bomb was successfully extricated.
In order to shield his men from further danger, Lieutenant Davies himself drove the vehicle in which the bomb was removed and personally carried out its disposal.
Later war career
In May 1942, Davies was court-martialled and convicted of eight charges of fraud, obtaining money dishonestly, and theft, he also pleaded guilty to 13 further charges of issuing cheques without ensuring he had sufficient funds to draw on. He was cashiered on 1 June 1942, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment, reduced to 18 months following review by the General Officer Commanding, London District.
He afterwards migrated to Australia and lived with his family in Kogarah, Sydney. The Times of 1 October 1970 reported that his medal had been sold for a then record £2,100. It is now on display at the Imperial War Museum. Upon his death on 27 September 1975 he was cremated and his remains interred at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium, Sydney. His interment niche is located in the "OT" wall, niche 175.
- George Cross database. Retrieved 19 November 2007.
- "No. 34825". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 April 1940. p. 2050.
- "No. 34956". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 September 1940. pp. 5767–5768.
- "No. 34956". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 September 1940. p. 5769.
- "Investiture At The Palace". News. The Times (49163). London. 18 February 1942. col C, p. 7.
- "Alleged Offences By R.E. Officer—Court-Martial Of Capt. R. Davies, G.C.". News. The Times (49239). London. 19 May 1942. col E, p. 2.
- "Alleged Offences By R.E. Officer—Evidence By Captain Davies". News. The Times (49240). London. 20 May 1942. col C, p. 8.
- "Court-Martial Of R.E. Officer—Not Guilty On Three Of 11 Charges". News. The Times (49241). London. 19 May 1942. col C, p. 2.
- "No. 35681". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 August 1942. p. 3757.
- "Capt. R. Davies, R.E., Sentenced—Imprisonment And To Be Cashiered". News. The Times (49241). London. 19 May 1942. col C, p. 2.
- Geraldine Keen (1 October 1970). "Record £2,100 paid for a George Cross". Arts and Entertainment. The Times (57985). London. col F, p. 14.
- Further reading
- Danger UXB by James Owen has several chapters on Davies's life and the St Paul's bomb. Published by Little, Brown, 2010 ISBN 978-1-4087-0255-0