Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Lt Cdr Charles Gordon Victor Davies M.B.E.

A few weeks ago I came across a few old letters and bills among a box of allsorts under a stall at the Car Boot, some were still in their envelopes, majority being addressed to a Gordon Davies Esq, Highlands, Horsell Park, Woking, Surrey, postmarked 1946 to 53 , when I got them home I found one was addressed to Mr C.G.V.Davies, The Fleetway House, Farringdon Street, London E.C.4.  So I looked it up ‘Amalgamated Press’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amalgamated_Press ….  interesting…then another letter says ‘Dear Lieutenant Commander Davies’ now that could be really interesting !
So I have since been on and off trying to find out what I could about this man and here are my findings so far…
Charles Gordon Victor Davies was born on 22 June 1904 Stamford Hill, Hackney District, Greater London and died aged  93 on 1st December 1997 in St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, Surrey.
His parents were Arthur Charles Davies 1877-1963 and Mary Florence Cramp 1876-1957  They married on July 2nd 1900 at St Phillip the Evangelist, Islington, London.

He had an older brother Arthur Reginald born in 1902, sadly I have found he died 4 Jan 1929 only 27, I don’t know why,  and a younger sister Muriel May Victoria born 1909 who never married and died 21 Sept 2007 age 98.
The whole family seemed to live at ‘Highlands’ Horsell Park, Horsell, Surrey, they obviously moved out of London sometime after the 1911 census, where they were living at Portland Avenue, Stamford Hill.
 But not Arthur Reginald, his address at death was given as ‘Waldens’ 4 Walden Park Road, Horsell, Woking, Surrey, he left £1,192.15s to his Mum and Dad in his will. So lived close by.
Father Arthur was listed as a Clerk thoughout his life and in 1911 census was Meat Commission Salesman Clerk and when Father Arthur died in 1963 he left £10,477.3s all to his son Charles Gordon Victor, Company director.

Most of his employment and service information below is what I have found at  WWW.unithistories.com
When Charles was  a young man he attended the London School of Economics and had a career in Banking and Finance, can’t seem to find out where.
Then around 1940-1 he joined the Royal Navy **
He was apparently based from 6.2.1941 to late 1945 at HMS Orlando (Royal Naval Base, Greenock ***)
From the beginning of 1943 he was Staff officer (Operations) for Flotilla Duties, which is when he received his M.B.E.
About 1945 it states that he became a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (Supplementary)
His medals/awards as listed on   www.unithistories.com   are:
1.1939-45 Star
2.Atlantic Star
3.Burma Star
4.Defence Medal
5.War Medal 1939-45
6.Legion of Honour (France) ? Liberation of France ?
And also he was awarded the M.B.E. on 11.6.1942. Received at Investiture 3.11.1942 from King George V1
I have tried but am unable to find out why he was awarded the M.B.E.
**They state on their website that he was a Special Branch Officer in 1941 employed on staff etc, duties ashore, having not received any training of an executive nature, but did undergo a course at the RN College, Greenwich, London.
***H.M.S.Orlando was based at Naval House Clarence St Greenock which was the HQ of the Flag Officer Clyde. The Bay Hotel in Gourock was used as office accommodation. It was the beginning of RN activities on the Clyde many of which became bases with their own HMS names.

Charles Gordon Victor Davies was known to all his friends and colleagues as Gordon it seems and although he never married he seems to have had a very interesting life, touring around the world, having lots of friends in high places too, in the letters he received are thanks for the flowers sent to a lady in New Zealand and other places, all from ladies, a letter from the French Consul about him organizing dinner for Polish Officers at the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Club at 52 Pall Mall, London, several letters sent to him at that address one in particular mentioning the B3 Escort Group, its seems he may have been a part of that as he was arranging the dinner and invites (Nov 1946) and it reads that he was a part of this group!

Info about the B3 Escort Group below from Wikipedia …………..
HX 228 was an east bound convoy of 60 ships, plus local contingents, which sailed from New York on 28 February 1943 bound for Liverpool and carrying war materials.
The Mid-Ocean Escort Force group B3 joined the convoy from St Johns. The escort group was led by Commander AA Tait of HMS Harvester; the other ships of this group were the destroyers HMS Escapade, ORP Burza and ORP Garland and the corvettes HMS Narcissus and FNFL ships Aconit, Renoncule and Roselys. The group was backed by the escort carrier USS Bogue and 2 destroyers which sailed from Argentia on 5 March.
Arrayed against them in the North Atlantic were three U-Boat patrol lines, Wildfang, Burggraf and Neuland, although in the event only a re-configured Neuland, comprising 13 U-boats, engaged HX 228.
In early March the U-boat rakes came in contact with SC 121, which was several days ahead of HX 228, and engaged it. The Admiralty diverted HX 228 north-east to avoid the conflict and thus straight into the Neuland patrol area.
HX 228 arrived safely at Liverpool on 15 March 1943.
The RNVR Officer's Club at 52 Pall Mall, opposite St Jame's Palace had some very distinguished visitors over the years and members, Lieut The Hon W.W.Astor was a chairman and it had a welfare fund to help RNVR officers and their dependants in need, the club had around ten thousand members in 1946.Of who 2.700 were Doctors that held commissions in the RNVR, the British Medical Jouirnal at the time says 'they served with great distinction and in all classes of ships all over the world '

Amalgamated Press, Fleetway House.
The earliest connection with this company is 14th July 1948 in the letters that I have, someone from the firm writing to him acknowledging receipt of letters and his memoirs numbers 1-6 it also says in the 6 page letter about the other Directors, so it seems he was one of the Directors of the company from as early as 1948 and definitely through to the mid 1950’s.They published lots and lots of well known comics etc like 'Roy of the Rovers'.
I would love to know if they published his memoirs but again after lots of searching I have drawn a blank.
There is also a letter about the new ‘Lion Annual’ dated 25th March 1953 from the office of Amalgamated Press.

When I was on my internet hunt for information I also found records of a chap who bought a lot of Gordon Davies possessions after he died in 1997, including cigar boxes with attached notes from Winston Churchill and quite a few other items all with links and signatures from Winston Churchill or his Clementine Churchill or his Secretary Grace Hamblin. Christmas cards, books, letter from House of commons from Winston Churchill to Commander Davies, there was quite a selection of stuff it seems. I think that he sold a lot of it at Auctions and on Ebay and probably what I found are the odds and ends that nobody wanted and they have taken these few years to filter through the system and end up at a Car Boot!  So he definitely had friends in high places !!

Some other interesting things from the collection I got is one of his Taxi bills for July 1951..
 Another letter is addressed to him at Nugent Road, Southbourne, Bournemouth not far from us her in Christchurch, he must have been visiting as these are mostly large detached houses.

Another a Telegram to him (First Class Passenger) aboard the SS Strathaird, from a lady confirming her presence at a reunion at the Ivy Restaurant in London
The SS Strathaird typical ports of call were Port Said, Aden, Bombay, Colombo, Freemantle, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
One of the ladies wrote to him from her holiday with friends in Cheshire..letters ends 'Well I shall keep all the details for when I see you again.
I hope you're not working too hard and that you think of me sometimes...
Betty'
Another letter dated March 18th 1953 speaks about him arranging a car for someone who has a seat in the Abbey for the Coronation !!



This small picture not written on was also in the box, I am wondering could this be Gordon?? fits my image of him, a man about town, traveller, nice gent ....................

So all in all some really interesting finds about a very interesting man and his life…………
Till next time then.......................................

UPDATE
After I posted this Blog I found a chap who was asking for information about Gordon Davies, so I sent him the link to my Blog in an email and had a wonderful reply with a bit more info about him.
Richard actually wrote the research notes that I quoted in Blog at www.unithistories.com and also is connected with this wonderful site  Naval Historical Collectors Research Association 
great if you need any Naval info especially for Family History.
The most wonderful thing was that Richard actually acquired  Gordon's Medals and sent me a picture and also he had a Photo of Gordon which he sent me also, and after comparing them I am sure now Gordon is the chap in my photo above taken by the ship waving !! How amazing is that ? and I nearly didn't pick up the photo, just something told me it might be him !           Photos below..............

 My very grateful thanks to Richard for the photos and reply.
All the letters etc that I have about Gordon, Richard has bought from me, so that he can add all the info together to write a more detailed account of our mans service history and life.
UPDATE no 2
Bit more info from Richard "
Navy List HMS Orlando entry for Gordon. His name appears about half-way down the right hand column – shows him as a staff officer (operations) with the flotillas (destroyers, corvettes, etc). 

 Many Many thanks again Richard...
Amazing the information a few old letters can generate...........
LATEST UPDATE
This is latest info from Richard, he has found out more info about one of the letter writers to Gordon....."I spent a lot of time looking in the wrong places but I have now established that it was Wren 2nd Officer Robina Hope Brooks, who served with Gordon at HMS Orlando from 1942. She was a petty officer when she was appointed 3rd Officer in 1941; she was promoted in 1944.
I’ve found that Robina Hope Brooks served as a WRNS officer in the Queen Mary, sailing between Greenock and New York in 1944-45. She was born in Scotland in 1915 and was still in the Wrens in 1948"


Many thanks to Richard for letting me know to add to Blog, these letters are certainly keeping him busy....................



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