Joy Davis was the eldest son of James and Margaret Davis. Joy was born on 21st September 1883 in Ballymacarrett, Belfast. He attended Drumglass National School. He had served on the Army for a number of years, but his period of service had expired. Sergeant-Major Davis promptly rejoined on the commencement of the war with the Army Service Corps. He was married to Cicely with two children and lived in Belfast. On his family headstone in Dungannon, it states Sergeant-Major Joy Davis died of wounds received on active service in France. He was interred in Sydney, Australia on 27 August 1920..
Joy Davis was the eldest son of James and Margaret Davis. James Davis and Margaret Irvine were married on 20th June 1875 in Belfast.
Joy Davis was born on 21st September 1883 in Ballymacarrett, Belfast.
By 1891, the family had moved from to Dungannon from Belfast.
Joy Davis attended Drumglass Boys National School in Dungannon.
Known family: James Davis, Margaret Davis, Margaret Davis (born 11th September 1879, Belfast), Mary Davis (born 13th June 1881, Belfast), Joy Davis (born 21st September 1883, Belfast), Martha Davis (born 5th September 1885, Belfast), Ellen Nellie Davis (born 15th August 1887, Belfast), James Davis (born 16th May 1889, Belfast), Emma Emily Davis (born 14th September 1890, Belfast), Annie Davis (born 16th November 1891, Dungannon), Samuel Davis (8th December 1893, Dungannon), Lucy Davis (born 16th October 1895, Dungannon)
Joy Davis enlisted in Belfast on 22nd October 1900. He stated his age as 18 years and two months, which would give his date of birth as September 1882. He was working as a stone cutter. He had already served the local militia. He enlisted with the Army Service Corps for twelve years, three years in the Army and nine years in the Army Reserve.
The 1901 census does not list Joy as living with the family at house 26 in Barrack Street, Dungannon, County Tyrone. His father was a marble mason.
Joy was married about 1905, presumably in England where his wife Cicely Sophia was born.
By 1909 Joy and family had returned to Dungannon, as their second child was born there.
Known family: Joy Davis, Cicely Sophia Davis, Joseph George Davis 4 (born 14th March 1907, England), Cicely Doris Davis (born 28th November 1909, Dungannon), Marjorie May Davis (born 17th June 1914).
The 1911 census shows Joy’s parents still lived in Barrack Street, Dungannon.
The 1911 census lists Joy Davis in Barrack Street, Dungannon too. He was working as a monumental stonecutter.
Prior to the war, Sergeant Major Joy Davis had served in the army for a number of years, but his period of service had expired.
Sergeant-Major Davis promptly rejoined on the commencement of the war with the Army Service Corps.
Private Joy Davis served in France from 23rd September 1914 to 7th April 1915.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 31st October 1914:
Sergeant Joy Davis, of the 67th Company Army Service Corps, in a letter to his mother, Mrs Davis, Barrack Street, Dungannon, says:-
‘I am sure you are wondering how I am getting on out here, and I hope you will forgive me for not writing before, but we are continually on the move after the Germans and don’t get very much chance, and when we do write, we can’t tell you where we are or what we are doing as all the letters etc. are read over by our own officers and then signed by them to see that we don’t mention the names of any of the places or what is happening. We are certainly worrying our enemies and doing our very best to wipe them out. There are a few of our fellows in hospital, but I am glad to say I am in luck’s way and still keeping safe and sound, but of course we all have to take our chances. We are having plenty of excitement and exercise dodging about. We are with the Indian column now and will soon make a big move ahead. I am glad to tell you I am promoted to sergeant now, and is great to be back in the army again.’
He served in France from 17 August 1914 to 7th April 1915.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 2nd January 1915: French Legion of Honour Conferred - James Davis (brother of Joy Davis)
Corporal James Davis, of the North Irish Horse, has written to his father, Mr James Davis, senior, Barrack Street, Dungannon, under date the 21st December. No communication has been received from him for the past fourteen weeks, so that naturally his family were anxious for his safety. He states that he is now using a rifle belonging to a Derry trooper who had been killed in action in Belgium in the earlier part of the fighting. His squadron had been 250 all told when the landed in France, but within a fortnight they were greatly reduced. During that time some of their lads won the French Legion of Honour for the gallant defence of a town made by a small party of North Irish Horse. They were the rear-guard to a column in retreat from Mons and although the shells were flying thickly and the Germans were about to enter the town, they kept the enemy in check. Three hours afterwards the place was in flames and the Germans were on the march again, but the North Irish Horse had achieved the purpose intended. They were at present attached to headquarters, but he had just heard they were going into active service again and that a squadron was coming out from Ireland to take their place. The South Irish Horse had been sent to the trenches about a month ago and were now near Lille.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 9th January 1915: Corporal Johnston’s Christmas - James Davis (brother of Joy Davis)
Lance Corporal John Johnston, of the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskillings, son of Mr David Johnston, Killymeal, Dungannon, writing to his friends in Dungannon, says that he has had a very merry time at Christmas. He went to Holy Communion at eight o’clock, and saw John McIntyre, Joseph McIntyre and William Dixon (Dickson), all Dungannon boys, there. There was a heavy snow storm on Christmas Day. We all got Princess Mary’s Christmas Box, from which we enjoyed a good smoke. He came across Wingfield Espey (Bush, Dungannon), and was informed that James Davis (Dungannon) was still alive and well. They were all sorry at losing Averall and Devlin, both Dungannon men, reported killed during November, who were very popular in the battalion. He concludes by wishing all the townspeople a New Year, and especially A Company U.V.F., and Mr Bingham, officer commanding and Sergeant Major Whitelaw.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 3rd April 1915: Trooper Davis at the Front - James Davis (brother of Joy Davis)
Trooper James Davis, of the North Irish Horse, writing to his father, Mr James Davis, Barrack Street, Dungannon, says:- “You evidently have not much startling news about your town. As is to be expected all eyes are on the war. I suppose Lord Northland’s death was more than most people bargained for. You mentioned only three casualties for the town so far. Don’t you think this is a very insignificant roll of war honour for Dungannon. Of course in other respects it will be a great consolation to some, but then the worst is yet to come, and those of our number whom may be intended for the same glorious death as Lord Northland were willing to go out to win their country’s honour and a soldier’s grave; or if fate otherwise wills it, we picture the day when we may return to enjoy with our friends at home the peace that must ensue. Personally I am proud to be here, come what may, through the trials and burdens of this dreadful war man was never made to bear, and to those at home are well-nigh incredible, and with an army following on the tracks of a departed foe, and the district where remains (to say nothing of the slaughtered man and beast) all manner of refuse, and what is worse, the seed and nourishment of diseases deposited by an ill-conditioned army. Such is the enemy we will have to face; far worse than the myriads of Germans. The odds against our troops, no doubt, are many, but wisdom on the part of our generals has delayed operations as far as they were concerned for these and other reasons, but great things may in another little while be expected of Britishers, and for a considerable time, and as far as we on the spot can venture to say, there is no slight evidence of the speedy termination of hostilities, and the preparations and arrangements being carried out tend in a very different direction. Suffice to say seeing we are unable to comment further on matters of direct concern with our enemies. At the same time none of us are over desirous for the annihilation of a people that have (where the truth is told) up till now made, and at present evidently intend to continue, a stubborn and determined fight, and in many cases when we realise that is, as reported, German boys that we are grappling with, we have certainly some little concession to make though they may abuse certain privileges as prisoners occasionally make a show of the diehard nature, being prompted to this by something national. The thought just reminds me of one little incident which happened lately and of which I am personally aware. In the vicinity of La Bassee it happened that about two dozen of our chaps were taken prisoner by the Germans, and while the fight was nearing an end, went off with the enemy. But not being the chief concern of the moment, they gained an opportunity of their captors for a daring escape, and in winding their way towards the British outposts, turned the scale by making secure a hand of more than half their own number of Germans, and what were they but fourteen German boys, the oldest twenty-four years and the others from thirteen to twenty-one years. They were, of course, at once put under escort and despatched, but not before the twenty-four year old made a violent attempt at the life of the officer in charge, for which the officer was too well on alert for such emergencies and let the young diehard instantly have the ample reward of three revolver bullets. From one of his remaining comrades I received a German penny, which I enclose as a souvenir. The number of prisoners taken on both sides since the declaration of war must be very great. Some people talk of bring hostilities to a sudden termination by blocking Germany and starving the inhabitants, but they don’t make mention of the fate of our countrymen who are prisoners of war and at present do not at all fare well, and must needs be the first to suffer or die of starvation. Every man available today at home is required to gain the victory, and without that we will be sorely at a disadvantage to ourselves and unfit for the gigantic job we have on our hands. As it is, we have trainloads coming in daily of reinforcements of all branches of the Army, and we are quite prepared for the coming big push. We were on service at a large canal bridge and I was surprised to see Paddy McCoey, the mason who worked with Robert Patton, in the Engineers. He had a black beard and I hardly recognised him, and it was the same on the other side for he didn’t recognise me until some of the North Irish Horse pointed me out. We were glad to meet each other, and I need hardly tell you the topic wasn’t Home Rule for Ireland, but rather we would be ruled under Germany, or under the sod. I may tell the same bridge we talked on was blown up by the Germans and part of the town and church brought to the ground. A few days later after I met McCoey we perceived the German dead floating down the canal and the young French stoning the corpses. The state and condition of the people and country brought about by the havoc and turmoil is no doubt crude. We have no chaplain attached to the North Irish Horse, seeing we are divided here and there working with the different Army Divisions, but when we see one for an hour or less, he is certainly admired. One chap of ours from Portadown named Walker was specially written for by his father and rector to the commanding officer and got home, but luckily or unluckily was delayed when commencing his journey home and before that same day had passed, his father had breathed his last. He remained, of course, to bury him and immediately after the funeral rejoined his regiment, and knowing his case fetched the death certificate with him here, but nevertheless was severely punished. Though it may seem strange, it is quite true. He has a brother at the Dungannon Royal School. You see it is very hard getting leave out here, and when you do get it, it is obtained at a price. Considering our present state of health, I have great pleasure in informing (though I am not caring to boast for fear) I am in the very best health and strength. I hope all my brothers and sisters, far and near, are quite well, also my brothers-in-law, and other relations, leaving out nobody. Kindly convey my sincere regards and respect to all, not forgetting the rector and curate. I expect there is no change in that yet, also Mr Stewart if you chance upon him. We have a new troop officer lately sent out from officer to replace Lord Jocelyn, son of Lord Roden, invalided home, a Lieutenant Armstrong, I believe the Dean of Armagh’s son. I intend to send you my Queen Mary’s and Princess Mary’s Xmas presents just as you like to dispose of them if I can get them sent off as I have no way of keeping them out here. There is an aeroplane passing overhead just now. They are as frequent as motor cars at home, and are playing a good share in war.
A 'Chelsea' Pension report dated 6th May 1915 makes grim reading for Joy. The tuberculosis originated in France in February 1915. Symptoms included bad cough, vomiting owing to cough (tuberculosis laryngitis). It describes his condition as permanent and having total incapacity.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 1st June 1915: James Davis (brother of Joy Davis)
Corporal James Davis, North Irish Horse, has intimated to his father, Mr James Davis senior, Dungannon, that he has invalided home with an attack of fever and is now in Moorfield Military Hospital, Glossop.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th June 1915: James Davis (brother of Joy Davis)
Corporal James Davis of the North Irish Horse, writing to his father, Mr James Davis, Barrack Street, Dungannon, says that he has invalided home from the front owing to an attack of fever, and is at present in Moorfield Military Hospital, Glossop. He adds that the hospital ship, Carisbrooke Castle, was the first to have an escort.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 2nd July 1915: James Davis (brother of Joy Davis)
Trooper James Davis, North Irish Horse, who has been invalided from Flanders, arrived home at Dungannon on the same evening (Wednesday 30th June).
His discharge papers show his official discharge took place at Aldershot on 3rd November 1915.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 22nd January 1916: James Davis (brother of Joy Davis)
Trooper James Davis, North Irish Horse, who is one of three brothers serving with the colours, has returned to duty to Belgium after his recent illness. In a letter to his father, Mr James Davis, Barrack Street, Dungannon, he says:
'I suppose you will be a little surprised that I am again writing to you from the front. We have at last got away with it after all, and just as I suggested in my last letter. We came the same route as before and landed at the same place, and I knew almost everywhere we passed, owing to having gone their before. I am now in tip top form and fit for anything. I believe my brother Sam is in the London Irish. We are doing well considering that all three of us are now serving'
In June 1916, Sergeant-Major Joy Davis was home from the front on sick leave. He was living in Belfast with his wife.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated Saturday 3rd June 1916: James Davis (brother of Joy Davis)
Trooper James Davis, N.I.H., in a long letter to his father, Mr James Davis, Barrack Street, Dungannon, comments on the recent Dublin rising. He had visited Hack McCrae and found him well. His regiment are now all together and under the command of Lord Cole of Enniskillen. He also refers to Troopers McManus Dungannon and Bradley, Moy, and 'all the old Cookstown lot.' He acknowledges receipt of a birthday present and concludes:-
'Glad to hear that business is good and all are well at home. Sorry I can't tell you exactly where we are, as we are not allowed, but a place west of Arras, beginning with the first letter of my second name and ending with the last letter of same name of as our pretty neighbour who lived below us at home. Let us know if you can catch it up.'
From the Tyrone Courier dated 8 June 1916
The three sons of Mr James Davis, Barrack Street, Dungannon, are all serving with his Majesty's forces. The eldest son, Sergeant-Major Joy Davis, Army Service Corps, had served on the Army for a number of years, but his period of service had expired and he promptly rejoined on the commencement of the war, and is at present home from the front in Belfast (where his wife resides) on sick leave. The next son, Trooper James Davis, North Irish Horse, had joined the North Irish Horse some time before the war, and was called up in August 1914 and is at present in active service in France with his regiment. The youngest son, Private Samuel Joseph Davis, London Irish Rifles, volunteered in Belfast he had been working last Christmas, and he is stationed in Winchester and expects to be going to the front shortly.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 12th October 1916: Samuel Davis (Brother of Joy Davis)
Private Samuel Davis, London Regiment, wounded on 3rd October, is the youngest son of Mr James Davis, Barrack Street, Dungannon. He was formerly in business in Belfast, and volunteered from the ranks of the Belfast U.V.F.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 2nd November 1916: Samuel Davis (Brother of Joy Davis)
Rifleman Samuel Davis, London Irish Rifles, has had his right leg amputated in Huddersfield Hospital owing to wounds received in action on 3rd October, is the younger son of Mr James Davis, Barrack Street, Dungannon. He was in business in Belfast when he volunteered from the ranks of the U.V.F.
In a report in the Tyrone Courier dated 2 November 1916, it states Joy has been invalided home and 'sent' to Australia by the Government. It is almost certain that his tuberculosis was the reason for this.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 2 November 1916: James Davis (Brother of Joy Davis)
Mr James Davis, Barrack Street, Dungannon, has received intimation that his youngest son, Private Samuel J Davis, London Irish Rifles, was wounded on 1st October and as a result , has had one of his legs amputated at the knee. A letter received from him on Tuesday indicates that he is progressing favourably. Private Davis volunteered for service in Belfast (where he had been in business) at Christmas 1915, and is one of three brothers who have served in the present war. The eldest brother, Joy, has been invalided home and sent to Australia by the Government, and the other brother, James, is serving with the North Irish Horse.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 26th April 1917: Dungannon and the U.V.F. Hospital (Samuel J Davis - Brother of Joy Davis)
Rifleman Samuel J Davis, writing home from the U.V.F. Hospital, Belfast, after returning from his weekend visit to Dungannon, says that when he approached his bed, he noticed by a card placed at its head that it was ‘In Memorial’ to the late Mr Francis Hale, J.P., Dungannon, a sum of 50 pounds having been given for this benevolent and patriotic purpose by Mrs Hale, one of several such gifts by Mrs and Miss Hale for war purposes. There is another bed through the generosity of Mr James Dickson, J.P., ‘In Memorial’ to Captain Tillie Dickson, Inniskilling Fusiliers, 1st July 1916, while another owes its existence to the generous gift of Messrs Stevenson and Sons. The matron is Miss Johnston, a daughter of Ronald Johnston, Northland Row, Dungannon. There are 35 beds in this ‘Roberts’ ward, all being occupied by limbless soldiers at present. It may be added that Mrs Hale was among the visitors to the hospital last week.
The official form relating to his widow's pension, reveals his date of death as 2nd September 1920.
It shows he died at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick, Sydney, Australia.
In 1915, during the First World War the hospital was converted by the NSW Government into a military hospital and then a repatriation hospital, and renamed the Fourth Australian Repatriation Hospital.
The certificate also reveals that Joy Davis died of pulmonary tuberculosis, combined with a secondary contributory condition of heart failure.
Sergeant-Major Davis was interred in Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, Australia. According to recently discovered records, he was buried in Ind. Section H, Grave No 1949.
Joy was one of three sons of who served. Trooper James Davis, North Irish Horse, had joined the North Irish Horse some time before the war, and was called up in August 1914. Private Samuel Joseph Davis, London Irish Rifles, volunteered in Belfast he had been working.
On the family headstone in Drumcoo cemetery, Dungannon, it states Sergeant-Major Joy Davis died of wounds received on active service in France.
The date on the family gravestone in Dungannon is 27 August 1920, which seems to be incorrect.
Thanks to some fantastic work by Phillip Tardif, Joy Davis's details have been added to the CWGC and his name has been inscribed on the Sydney Memorial in Rookwood Cemetery. Philip maintains the website www.northirishhorse.com.au, and has recently published a book, The North Irish Horse in the Great War.
The CWGC have added this to their website:- Recent research has shown that Private Davis is buried here; arrangements are being made to mark his grave.