THE gravestone of a Victoria Cross winner who grew-up in Sutton Heath is set to be restored as part of a nationwide project.
The government has made £100,000 available to refurbish the memorials of VC recipients and Jack Davies’ resting place in St Helens Cemetery is among those being upgraded.
The brave soldier was in the St Helens Pals, the 11th Battalion of the Duke of Lancaster’s South Lancashire Regiment and went to France in 1915.
The following year he was wounded twice but returned to action and in March 1918 Corporal Davies showed extreme bravery when he pinned down advancing German troops with a machine gun and received the VC for a gesture which saved the lives of many of his colleagues.
Ironically the authorities believed he had been killed in action and he was postumously awarded the VC. In fact he had been taken prisoner but his parents were notified of his ‘death’ at their home in Peasley Cross. They got a shock a few months later when he sent them, a postcard from a PoW camp in Poland!
His gallantry is recorded on the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment Lancashire Infantry Museum’s website: “On March 24 the St Helens Pals were occupying positions 12 miles south west of St Quentin near the village of Eppeville.
In the words of his VC citation: – “When his company – outflanked on both sides – received orders to withdraw, Corporal Davies knew the only line of withdrawal lay through a deep stream lined with a belt of barbed wire, and it was imperative to hold up the enemy as long as possible.
“He mounted the parapet, fully exposing himself, to get a more effective field of fire, and kept his Lewis gun in action to the last, causing the enemy many casualties and checking their advance.
“By his very great devotion to duty he enabled part of his company to get across the river, which they would otherwise have been unable to do, saving the lives of many of his comrades “When last seen this gallant NCO was still firing his gun, with the enemy close on the top of him, and was in all probability killed at his gun.
“His parents were notified of his death in action, and his Victoria Cross was gazetted posthumously, before information was received two months later that, he was a prisoner. He is believed to be the only person to have been awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross while still alive.”
Jack served during the Second World War as a captain in the Home Guard and died in October 1955, aged 60.