Ma­jor Alan Timewell Davis

Of­fi­cer who led his men in hand-to-hand fight­ing near the Ger­man-dutch bor­der at the war’s end

The Daily Telegraph - - Obituaries -

MA­JOR ALAN TIMEWELL DAVIS, who has died aged 94, won an MC in the last weeks of the Sec­ond World War. On March 29 1945 Davis was in com­mand of a ri­fle pla­toon of 7th Bat­tal­ion The Hamp­shire Reg­i­ment (7th Hamp­shires), part of 43rd (Wes­sex) Di­vi­sion. He was or­dered to seize an im­por­tant bridge just north of An­holt on the river Is­sel, close to the Ger­man­dutch bor­der.

He and his men came un­der ma­chine-gun fire from Ger­man para­troop­ers as they cleared the houses cov­er­ing the ap­proaches. Two other pla­toons in his com­pany then be­came pinned down by ma­chine guns fir­ing from their front and both flanks.

In this crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, Davis led his men in a flank­ing move­ment un­der heavy shelling. They had to cross 70 yards of open ground. Davis could see de­mo­li­tion wires un­der the bridge and was in great dan­ger of hav­ing it blown up un­der him.

He cut the wires to the ex­plo­sive charges with his clasp knife and then led his men in a charge across what be­came known as the “Hamp­shire Bridge”. With the sup­port of tanks, flame-throw­ers and self-pro­pelled guns fir­ing into the houses on the op­po­site bank, they cleared the re­main­ing en­emy po­si­tions.

A fort­night later, on April 13, the bat­tal­ion had a hard fight for Clop­pen­burg. Davis led his pla­toon un­der fire with great dash be­fore cross­ing a stream in the mid­dle of the town and then in bit­ter, hand-to-hand fight­ing from street to street. The ci­ta­tion for the award of his MC stated that ev­ery house was a strong point and that the suc­cess of a haz­ardous and ex­haust­ing op­er­a­tion was en­tirely due to his drive, lead­er­ship and high courage.

Alan Timewell Davis was born in Bris­tol on March 22 1923. His fa­ther had run away, aged 17, to join Da­mant’s Horse and served in the Boer War and the First World War.

Young Alan was ed­u­cated at Bris­tol Gram­mar School and then joined 7th Hamp­shires. As the Bat­tal­ion In­tel­li­gence Of­fi­cer, he landed in Nor­mandy on June 22 1944 (D+16) over the same beaches that 1st Hamp­shires had as­saulted on D-day.

In July, in 43rd (Wes­sex) Di­vi­sion’s at­tack on Hill 112, a dom­i­nat­ing fea­ture south-west of Caen be­tween the Odon and Orne rivers, 7th Hamp­shires suf­fered ca­su­al­ties of 18 Of­fi­cers and 208 other ranks. The Bn HQ ve­hi­cles were hit and Davis was for­tu­nate not to be wounded.

Davis then served as ad­ju­tant, dur­ing the re­main­der of the Nor­mandy Cam­paign, the break­out across the Seine, the gar­rison­ing of Brus­sels and the Bat­tle of Arn­hem. In Oc­to­ber, he was given com­mand of a ri­fle pla­toon and took part in de­fend­ing bridges over the river Meuse and then in at­tacks on strongly for­ti­fied vil­lages in the ad­vance to the Siegfried Line and bat­tles to clear the Re­ich­swald of de­ter­mined Ger­man para­troops.

As they pre­pared to cross the Rhine, Davis and his men were bil­leted on a large es­tate. One evening, he and his sergeant­ma­jor raided a lo­cal game farm and em­ployed a few blast grenades to pro­duce a good sup­ply of oven-ready pheas­ants. These were roasted on bay­o­nets over camp­fires.

In March, 7th Hamp­shires crossed the Rhine on the heels of 15th and 51st Di­vi­sions. Davis had bor­rowed a Sten gun from his bat­man to shoot par­tridges and he was in­jured by a split car­tridge. This was gazetted as “Wounded but re­mained in ac­tion.” The ac­tions in which Davis was awarded his MC fol­lowed and the Ger­man sur­ren­der on May 5 found 7th Hamp­shires on the Hamm-ost Canal at Gnar­ren­burg.

The bat­tal­ion was dis­banded in July 1946. In recog­ni­tion of the Reg­i­ment’s out­stand­ing ser­vice in the war, the Hamp­shires were granted the right to add “Royal” to their name. Davis re­tired from the Reg­u­lar Army and from 1948 to 1984 he worked for Mar­don, Son & Hall, a sub­sidiary of Im­pe­rial To­bacco.

For many years, he car­ried on sol­dier­ing with the 44th Royal Tank Reg­i­ment (North Som­er­set and Bris­tol Yeo­manry) and re­tired in the rank of ma­jor. Set­tled in a vil­lage near Bris­tol, he was an api­arist, pho­tog­ra­pher and a pro­fi­cient artist. At Slim­bridge Wild­fowl Trust, one of his de­coy duck carv­ings was made spe­cially for Sir Peter Scott.

Alan Timewell Davis mar­ried, in 1963, Ali­son Mar­garet Cameron who sur­vives him with their son (a re­tired bri­gadier) and daugh­ter.

Ma­jor Alan Timewell Davis, born March 22 1923, died Oc­to­ber 9 2017

The suc­cess of a haz­ardous op­er­a­tion was due to his drive and courage

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