Harry Davies and James Collingwood Evans

The following biographies were written by Victoria Doran, who is working her way through all the casualties from West Kirby. Harry and Jimmy are grouped together simply because of their proximity to each other on the Grange Hill Memorial. They were not related.


Harry Davies

Harry Davies

Although having a surname that is common in the area, Harry Davies was not related to any of the other Davies families in Wirral. Very little is known with any accuracy about him;  even his name and birth year are not known for certain. He is likely to have been born between 1876 and 1879, making him amongst the oldest of the soldiers who died from the area. He was born in Whitchurch, Shropshire and seems to have been called Harry, though at the 1911 census and at his marriage he is recorded as Henry. He was a house painter by occupation, and at the 1911 census he was a single man boarding at 20 Willow Street, Oswestry, Shropshire. 20 Willow Street was an Eating House, and he was one of two boarders. The head of the household was Sarah Ann Kynaston a spinster. 

On 29 August 1901 Harry married his landlady’s niece Eliza Alice Kynaston at Oswestry. Eliza Alice Kynaston (1879-1945) believed she was born in Oswestry, but all the records with information supplied by her parents state she was born in Bolton, Lancashire. She was certainly baptised there at St John the Evangelist, Farnworth on 26 February 1879, having been born on 22nd January that year and her birth was registered in Bolton. Her father Lewis Kynaston (1849-1901) was born in Woolton, Shropshire and worked as a wheelwright and joiner, though by 1891 he was described as a general labourer. Grace Charnock (1849-1909) was from Ormskirk, Lancashire. Lewis and Grace married in Liverpool in 1877, lived for a while in Ormskirk, then moved back to Liverpool. 

Up until her marriage Eliza Alice seems to have been known as Eliza, but after that she changed to Alice. Before her marriage she worked as a household servant. Their first son Lewis Henry Davies was registered in the first quarter of 1882 in Oswestry. They wasted no time increasing their family as their second son Walter Harold Davies was born on 6th October of the same year. The family moved to West Kirby about 1904. At the time of the 1911 census they were living at 10a South Road and had a daughter May and another son Arthur both born in West Kirby. They had also lost a fifth child. By the time Harry died in April 1916, they had apparently had 4 more children (though only 3 of these have been found), the youngest of whom he never saw.

James Christian the Builder, an Advertisement from Moss's Directory. Thanks to Heather Chapman for providing this.

James Christian the Builder, an Advertisement from Moss’s Directory. This is the form for which Harry Davies worked. The Christian family originated on the Isle of Man and were responsible for erecting many of the Victorian houses which make West irby so attractive. The Christian family lost their son Jack during the Great War, whose biography has been published on this blog. Thanks to Heather Chapman for providing this.

At the outbreak of war Harry was working as a house painter for Mr Christian, builder. Although of an age when everyone would have understood had he not volunteered, he enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment at Birkenhead in January 1915.  

Cheshire Regiment Badge

Cheshire Regiment Badge

On 17 November 1915 he arrived in the Balkans with the 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. They were in Egypt in January 1916, moving to Mesopotamia (Iraq) the following month where the enemy were the Turkish Army. From newspaper reports we know he was involved in fighting on 5 April 1916, which was probably the Battle of Hanna or the battle of Fallahiyeh. They were probably part of the unsuccessful attempts to relieve the siege of Kut. However, along with a high proportion of those who died in Mesopotamia, Harry did not die in battle, succumbing quite suddenly to disease on 19 April 1916, leaving a widow in poor health with 8 children under the age of 15. In 1919 Alice married Charles S Kynaston who was presumably a relative, and she died in Wirral in 1945. He had a brother also serving in the Army, whilst his wife, Alice had 5 brothers in the Army.

He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, but due to the current situation in Iraq, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is unable to maintain that memorial at present, so they also commemorate him and over 40,000 others in a 2 volume Roll of Honour which is kept at the CWGC Headquarters in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

Birth:  c.1877 to 1879, Whitchurch, Shropshire
Death: 19 Apr 1916 in Mesopotamia from disease
Addresses: 20 Willow Street, Oswestry, Shropshire (01); 10a South Road, West Kirby (11)
Occupation: House Painter
Units:  8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: 24708; Private
Medals: 15 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: Iraq : Basra Memorial; St Bridget & St Andrews churches, West Kirby; Grange Hill War Memorial
Sources: GH, WK, CWGC, SDGW, MC, DA, FT, Census: 01, 11


Jimmy Evans

Jimmy Evans

According to reports, James Collingwood Evans was known to his friends as ‘Jimmy’. Jimmy Evans was born in the spring of 1891 probably at 148 Longmoor Lane, Walton on the Hill, Liverpool where his parents Samuel Evans (1852-1926) and Gertrude Jones (1854-1936) were living with his 2 older siblings Gertrude Magdalena Evans (1991-1957) and Samuel Stanley Evans (1884-1951) at the immediately preceding census.This was a family which gradually moved firmly into the middle classes, having been in the fringes for a while. They were Methodists. 

Samuel Evans was one of many children of David and Mary A Evans. David Evans was born in Treddol, Cardiganshire about 1821 and between 1851 and 1871 worked his way up from being a rail porter to station master. As was usual the railway moved the family around, and Samuel was born whilst they were living in Preston, Lancashire, later moving to Netherton which is just north west of Aintree, and is now part of Liverpool. Samuel Evans trained as a printer and stationer.  

Jimmy’s maternal grandparents were William and Charlotte Jones. William was born about 1822 in Ludlow, Shropshire and worked as a wine merchant’s clerk in Bold Square, Chester in 1851, then as a coal dealer in Birmingham in 1861. All their children were born in Charlotte’s home town of Chester. After William died sometime before the 1871 census, Charlotte obtained employment as matron of the womens’ side of H.M.P. Walton Gaol in Liverpool, so she must have been a very strong minded individual.  

Gertrude Jones and Samuel Evans were married in Liverpool in the summer of 1880. In 1881 they were living at Yew Tree Road, Walton on the Hill, moving to 148 Longmoor Lane, Walton on the Hill before the 1891 census. Jimmy was born 7 years after his brother Samuel, a long gap for the time, but perhaps his mother had some unsuccessful pregnancies. He was the youngest in the family.

By 1901 the family were living in Banks Road, West Kirby. The move to West Kirby meant that Jimmy was educated at Calday Grange Grammar School. By 1911 the family had moved to ‘Hardwick’, Carpenter’s Lane in West Kirby, and Samuel Evans had become an employer.

Gore's Directory of Liverpool and Suburbs 1911

Gore’s Directory of Liverpool and Suburbs 1911

The firm of G.G.Walmsley traded in Bold Street, Liverpool from at least 1881 as booksellers, publishers, printers and stationers. It seems probable that Samuel Evans worked his way up this firm, finally becoming a partner sometime between 1901 and 1911, rather than being able to buy it out. By the time he died in 1926 he had amassed over £6,000.

Kelly's Directory 1881

Kelly’s Directory 1881

Jimmy was well known in West Kirby and joined in many activities. He was an active member of West Kirby Sailing Club as is shown by the following programme for the 1914 West Kirby Regatta for which he was the Assistant Honorary Secretary. He is also commemorated on their Honours Board.

Programme for West Kirby Sailing Club Regatta 1914

Programme for West Kirby Sailing Club Regatta 1914

Jimmy was one of the very earliest West Kirby men to join up, enlisting at Frazer Street in Liverpool on 5th August 1914. He gave his occupation as stationer with G.G.Walmsley, so he was working with his father. As his brother Samuel was a printer, he probably also worked for G.G.Walmsley.

When he joined up Jimmy was described as 5 ft 9 in tall with a 37 in chest. He joined the 1st / 10th Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment, the ‘Liverpool Scottish’, where he served alongside other West Kirby men including FRANK CASE. On his attestation he stated that he had already served as a Territorial in the Liverpool Scottish and had terminated his engagement, but he cannot presumably have been on the Reserve as he was not immediately mobilised. In common with most other Liverpool Scottish soldiers, he had no known family connection to Scotland.

Jimmy Evans's Attestation Document

Jimmy Evans’s Attestation Document

The following post card comes courtesy of relations (and can be seen on http://www.ancestry.co.uk) and shows Jimmy at the front left during training. The attitude to smoking has certainly changed since 1914!

Liverpool Scots at Camp

Liverpool Scots at Camp

As the 1st/10th Battalion was a territorial Battalion it was mobilised immediately and sent to France in October 1914. Jimmy will actually have joined the ‘duplicate’ battalion that was formed in Liverpool to include men unable to volunteer for overseas service at that time.

On 23 Jan 1915 he embarked at Southampton for France. By then the original 1st / 10th Battalion had been reduced to 370 men, so reinforcements were urgently required. The first time the reinforced battalion had a major engagement was on 16 Jun 1915 at Hooge, 2 miles west of Ypres in Belgium. ‘Z’ Company of the Liverpool Scottish formed part of the 2nd wave whose task was to take the second line of German trenches on the south west edge of Bellewarde Lake. This was also the day when Jimmy died aged 23. The following photo of the Battle of Hooge on 16th June 1915 is taken from Wikipedia. As can be seen, the trenches were shallow and nothing like those seen later on in the war, that are usually associated with the Western Front. 

The Liverpool Scots at Hooge 15th June 1915

The Liverpool Scots at Hooge 16th June 1915

There were reports of someone seeing him fallen in a trench, but his body was never recovered. It was many months before his parents received confirmation that he had died rather than being taken prisoner. Only 142 of the 542 Liverpool Scottish at the start of the day were not killed, wounded or taken prisoner. 

The battle in which Jimmy fell occurred on 16th June 1915 at Hooge. It actually claimed the lives of seven men who appear on the Grange Hill War Memorial. In addition to Jimmy, they were:

Thomas Dawson of West Kirby

John Graham of Hoylake

Geoffrey L. Higgins of Hoylake

Thomas F. Jones of Hoylake

Bryden McKinnell of Hoylake

Frank Monteath of West Kirby

All of them were members of the Liverpool Scottish and all of them have no known graves and are, therefore, recorded on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at Ypres. More people from West Kirby and Hoylake died in the battle than did on the infamous first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916 (when six local men died), on 15th August 1915 (when five local soldiers of the 1/st/4th Cheshire Regiment perished in Gallipolli), and 30th July 1916 (when five local Liverpool Pals were killed on the Somme). It was much talked about in the local press, including in this item from the Birkenhead News:

"Birkenhead News"

“Birkenhead News”

Jimmy is the most commemorated of those who died from West Kirby, having his name on no less than 6 plaques or windows locally, and being included in the Book of Remembrance as well as on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres. Below is the general window from West Kirby Methodist Church. 

Memorial Window from West Kirby Methodist Church

Memorial Window from West Kirby Methodist Church

Apr 1891 at Walton, Liverpool
Death: 16 Jun 1915 at Hooge, Belgium
Banks Road, West Kirby (01); ‘Hardwick’, Carpenters Lane, West Kirby (11)
Occupation: Printer and Stationer
‘Z’ Company, 1st / 10th Battalion (Scottish) King’s Liverpool  Regiment
Number and Rank: 2988, Private
Medals: 15 Star, Victory and British War
GH, WK, Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium; West Kirby Sailing Club; West Kirby Methodist Church (inc own window); Calday Grange Grammar School RoH; St Bridget & St Andrew Churches, West Kirby
Sources: BR, GH, WK, CWGC, SDGW, SR, MC, BN, DA, Census: 01, 11, BR, Family; Calday GS







4 thoughts on “Harry Davies and James Collingwood Evans

  1. Jimmy is also memorialised on a separate window on the other side of the church, which was placed by his family.

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