Name: Albert Davison
Service No: 34486
Date of Death: 22/03/1918
Regiment/Service: Leicestershire Regiment 11th Bn.
Panel Reference: Bay 5. Memorial: Arras Memorial
Additional Information: son of Stephen and Patty Davison, of 27 Nelson St, Scarborough; husband of Eva May Davison, of 11 Victoria Rd, Scarborough.
Paul Allen writes:
Another of those killed during the second day of the ‘Kaiserschlacht’ was 27-year-old 34486 Private Albert Davison.
Born in Scarborough at 4 Bedford Street during 1891, Albert, popularly known as ‘Bert’, was the fourth of five children of Martha (‘Pattie’) and Stephen Davison, who was variously employed as a ‘coal porter, labourer’, and by the turn of the century as a ‘greengrocer’, the family living in Scarborough at 54 North Street. 
A pupil of Scarborough’s Central Board School between the ages of 4 – 13, Bert left the school during 1904 to work initially in the family greengrocery business, the family living by this time at 109 Prospect Road. By the outbreak of war, however, Bert was working in the grocery trade at Derby; nevertheless, Bert returned to Scarborough during 1916 to be married at Bar Congregational Church on Thursday, 14 December to Eva May Hall, the 26-year-old daughter of Eliza and shoemaker, George Hall. Bert Davison and his bride set up home with elder brother Fred and Frances Caroline Davison, at 108 Moorland Road (where Albert and Eva’s only son, also to be named Albert, would be born on 21 April 1918).
‘Called up’ for war service during June 1916, Davison was enlisted into the army at the Sherwood Foresters Depot in Derby on 21 May 1917 where, despite expressing a preference for service with the Royal Flying Corps, the 27-year-old was recruited into the Leicestershire Regiment. Bert served between 21 May and 25 September 1917 at Leicester’s Wigston Barracks with the Regiment’s 3rd (Reserve) Battalion until he was posted to the 7th (Service) Battalion of the Leicesters. Davison embarked for France at Folkestone on 25 September 1917. Arriving in France the following day, Davison duly joined his new battalion, which was serving on the Western Front with 110 Brigade of 21st Division. Bert remained with the 7th Leicesters until 8 February 1918, when he was posted to the 11th Leicesters.
One of 68 battalions of Pioneers which had been raised during 1915 to provide skilled labour for the newly formed Kitchener’s ‘New Army’ Divisions, by the time that Bert Davison joined the unit, the 11th Leicesters (dubbed the ‘Midland Pioneers’, and commanded by Lt Col Charles Turner) were stationed in France at Fremicourt from where the unit’s four companies were engaged in various work assignments at nearby Lagnicourt, including digging deep dugouts, the construction of a light railway, and scraping and cleaning of roads.
The battalion was still at Fremicourt on the opening day of the ‘Kaiserschlacht’. The battalion’s War Diary of 21 March reports:
‘12.10 am Received orders from Division to ‘Stand to’.
‘In the Vaulx –Morchies Line
‘Companies in position by 5 am ….
‘The enemy attacked heavily after an intense bombardment (which lasted from about 05.00 am) at 08.00 am and established themselves in position in front of the wire of the Vaulx-Morchies Line by the evening … ’
Unfortunately, 11th Battalion’s War Diary records no further details of the action on 21 March except to report that at 5-30 pm Battalion Headquarters had, ‘Received message from Sgt. Barratt, acting Company Sergeant Major of ‘D’ Company, to the effect that all the officers of his company had become casualties and that he was in command of the company…Six officers and about 30 other ranks were sent up from H.Q. to reinforce ‘D’Company’…
During the morning of Thursday, 22 March the surviving Midland Pioneers were ordered to retire to the so-called ‘Army Line’. The move was completed by mid-afternoon. Evidence suggests that during this operation only 1 man, possibly Bert Davison, was killed: ’Transport moved to Pioneer Camp, Logeast Wood, one man of the transport was killed by shellfire … ’ 
Like the relatives of all the casualties at this chaotic stage of the war, Eva Davison was initially informed that her husband had been reported as ‘missing in action’ and she lived for some time with the hope, like most of his relatives, that Bert had been taken prisoner. Whilst eagerly awaiting news of her husband, on Sunday, 21 April, Eva gave birth to a son, the happy occasion being marred some days later by the arrival of the official notification of Bert’s death. The tidings were included in an extensive casualty list, which appeared in the ‘Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday, 26 April 1918:
‘Private A. Davison killed in action
‘Official news has been received by his wife at 108 Moorland Road, that Private Albert Davison, Leicesters, has been killed in action, March 22nd. He went out last August, and was expected to come on leave this month. He was the son of Mr. Stephen Davison, 27 Nelson Street, and son-in-law of Mr George Hall, bootmaker. Private Davison was married and leaves one child, born on Sunday last. He was aged 28. There are three brothers serving. Private Davison was well-known in local football circles … ’
No further news of Private Davison was ever received. Eva, living by this time in Scarborough at 11 Victoria Road, eventually received a small widow’s pension and two medals (the British War and Victory Medals) in recompense for her lost husband and father of a son that he had never seen. Probably blown to bits on 22 March, no remains of a soldier, identifiable as those of Private Davison, have been found so, to the present day, Albert Davison remains ‘missing, believed killed in action’ on 22 March 1918.
During the post war years Bert Davison’s name was included in Bay 5 of Sir Edward Lutyens’s Arras Memorial. Located in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery in the western part of the town of Arras, the memorial contains the names of almost 35,000 casualties of the British, New Zealand, and South African armed forces who, like Davison, lost their lives in the Arras Sector between the Spring of 1916 and 7 August 1918 (excluding the casualties of the Cambrai Offensive of 1917), and who have no known grave.
In Scarborough, as well as the Oliver’s Mount Memorial, Davison’s name is commemorated in St Mary’s Parish Church on the ‘Roll of Honour’ located on the north interior wall that lists 156 former members of the Parish who lost their lives during the ‘Great War of 1914-19’. Bert’s name can also be found on a memorial in the town’s Manor Road Cemetery (Section N, Row 13, Grave 34), which also bears the names of his mother, ‘Pattie’ Davison, who died in Scarborough Infirmary (69 Dean Road) on Sunday, 4 May 1914, at the age of 52, and father Stephen Davison, who had died at 6 Beechville Avenue on Thursday, 26 November 1942 at the age of 83.
Bert’s three brothers, Fred, Valentine, and Stephen Davison, also served in the army (Royal Engineers, Machine Gun Corps, and Yorkshire Regiment respectively), and all survived to return to Scarborough following their demobilisation in 1919. Eva Davison, and her son, Albert, resided with her parents at 11 Victoria Road until the mid 1930s when her name disappears from Scarborough’s Electoral Rolls. By the 1950s there were two Albert Davisons listed in the town’s ‘Street Directory’. One lived with wife Marjorie at 24 Murchison Street, whilst the second resided with wife Nora at 44 Candler Street.
 At the time of the 1901 Census the Davison family were residing in the house in North Street and consisted of Stephen (the eldest son of Rouse and Hannah Davison), aged 42 years, Martha, 39 years, Frederick, 16 years, employed as a ‘joiners apprentice’, Valentine, 15 years, employed as a ‘painters lad’, Amy aged 13, Albert aged 10, and Stephen aged 9. All were born in Scarborough except for Martha Davison, who was born in the Lincolnshire village of Glentworth.
 National Archives; WO /95/1601.