medal, ribbon and brooch bar
cross patté (described in the Royal Warrant as a 'Maltese cross of bronze') having at its centre a crown surmounted by 'lion gardant'; beneath the crown an ornamentally draped scroll bearing the motto: 'FOR VALOUR'. Raised borders outline the shape of the cross. The plain reverse bears a central circle (with raised edge) to enclose the date of the act of gallantry. The suspension bar comprises a straight laurelled bar with integral 'V' lug; the plain reverse of the suspension bar is engraved with details of the recipient. The 1½-inch wide ribbon is crimson. A straight laurelled Bar (in the same form as the suspension bar but without the 'V' lug) indicates a subsequent award.
[Note: originally the ribbon was dark blue for Royal Navy recipients and crimson (described as 'red' in the Warrants) for the Army. After the formation of the Royal Air (1 April 1918) the crimson ribbon (sometimes described as 'claret', 'maroon' or 'dark red') was adopted for all recipients.]
Victoria Cross awarded to Corporal J T Davies VC 11th (Service) Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (St Helens Pioneers) for bravery displayed on Western Front, during the German 'Spring' Offensive, March 1918.
Medal citation: (Supplement to the London Gazette, 22 May 1918)
No. 20765 Cpl. John Thomas Davies, S. Lanc. R. (St. Helens).
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire.
When his company—outflanked on both sides—received orders to withdraw, Corporal Davies knew that the only line of withdrawal lay through a deep stream lined with a belt of barbed wire, and that it was imperative to hold up the enemy as long as possible. He mounted the parapet, fully exposing himself, in order 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, thus undoubtedly saving the lives of many of his comrades.
When last seen this gallant N.C.O. was still firing his gun, with the enemy close on the top of him, and was in all probability killed at his gun.
VC awarded for the action at Eppeville, France, 24 March 1918.
John Davies VC
John Davies was born in Rock Ferry, Cheshire and lived in St Helens. During the war, he joined the Army and served with the 11th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, known as the St Helens Pioneers.
On 24 March 1918, John’s battalion came under heavy attack near Eppeville, France. John selflessly held up the advance by firing a Lewis gun despite being surrounded, allowing other men to escape. He was taken prisoner and held at a camp in Germany.
John was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration for bravery in the face of the enemy. He received the medal after returning home.
Biographical note (recipient): John Thomas Davies (29 September1896 - 28 October 1955) was born at Rockferry, Cheshire and educated in St Helens. Davies worked as a brick worker before enlisting in September 1914. He served in France with the 11th (Service) Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment - 'St Helens' Pioneers' - from November 1915 and was twice wounded during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. On 24 March 1918, during the major German 'Spring Offensive' in Picady, Corporal Davies's battalion occupied positions twelve miles southwest of St Quentin. After heavy shelling the Germans advanced from their bridgehead across the Somme at Ham and, within an hour, the forward companies of the 11th South Lancashires were in danger of being surrounded. Their only escape route was across a deep stream lined with barbed wire. In full view of the enemy, Davies mounted the parapet of his position to achieve a more effective field of fire. He kept his Lewis gun in action, inflicting many casualties and delaying the German advance. His gallant efforts enabled most of his own company to get away. When last seen Davies was still firing his gun with the Germans almost on top of him. The award of the Victoria Cross to Davies was gazetted on 22 May 1918. At first the award was posthumous as Davies was thought to have been killed in the action, but his parents later learned that he was a prisoner of war. In 1919, Davies returned to St. Helens. He served in the Home Guard in the Second World War and died in 1955, aged fifty-nine. In addition to Davies's medals (Ref: OMD 4677-4682), the Museum also holds two regimental badges (Ref: INS 4360-4361) and a small collection of related papers held by Exhibits and Firearms.