835198 Pte. Thomas Chester Alexander Davy was born on Amherst Island, Ontario, on August 10th, 1898, to Samuel and Maggie Davy. He had a brother, David George, who was 19 months older and 5 younger sisters: Hazel, Gladys, Marguerite, Agnes and Matilda.

By 1915, Thomas was living not far from home in Napanee, Ontario, working as a farm labourer. He had no previous military experience and just after Christmas, on December 27th, 1915, he volunteered into the 146th Battalion of the CEF and was assigned regimental number 835198. He would have been one of the first volunteers in the area, since this was the very beginning of the recruiting period for the 146th.

Thomas stood 5 feet 3½ inches tall and weighed 125 lbs., had light complexion, hazel eyes and light brown hair. His older brother volunteered 4 months later in Watrous, Saskatchewan. Thomas' apparent age was listed on his attestation papers as 18 years and 4 months, when in fact he was a year younger. His birth year has clearly been altered after the fact and looks like it is written in pencil instead of pen like the rest of the document. It was not uncommon for recruiting officers at the time to ignore or even to help falsify records to allow an under age recruit to volunteer. It is not apparent that his true age was ever officially discovered by the military.

After completing his training, Thomas boarded the troop ships with the rest of the 146th Battalion and sailed for England on the S.S. Southland. He arrived on October 6th, 1916, and was immediately transferred to the 95th Battalion and then to the 4th CMR on November 30th. He was in the field with the 4th CMR by December 1st and was assigned to 'D' Company.

On April 9th, 1917, with snow blowing at their backs, Thomas and 826 other men from the battalion scrambled out of their trenches to take part in the attack on Vimy Ridge. Thomas made it unscathed through the battle and helped the 4th CMR achieve all of their objectives by mid-afternoon. The battle lasted for three days. This was an important battle for the allies and the first major victory for the Canadians.

On May 26th, 1917, Thomas was well behind the lines at Toronto Camp. It was 8:30pm and the 4th CMR was enjoying a game of baseball, when another young man from the Napanee area, Pte. Clarence McCabe, picked up a blind (unexploded) shell. The shell went off killing Clarence instantly and wounding Thomas in the left leg, right arm and shoulder. The accident claimed the lives of 9 men and wounded 9 others besides Thomas, including:

Pte. George Griffin,

Pte. Charles Hartin and

Sgt. George Knowles, who also died immediately;

Pte. Shurley Asselstine,

Pte. Arthur Carroll and

Pte. Bertie Traviss died the next day at no. 6. Casualty Clearing Station;

Pte. James Dunn survived until May 31st and

Pte. Edwin Payne died on June 18th.

10 more were wounded, including: Pte. Morley Gilbert.

Thomas was first taken to the Military hospital in Barlin, then on May 30th to the 8th Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne. On June 2nd, 1917, he was transported back to England to the 4th Southern General Hospital in Plymouth until July 13th, when he was transferred to the Bear Wood Canadian Convalescent Hospital in Wokingham, Berkshire. He was finally discharged from hospital on August 17th, but he still had some shoulder pain and his wound had left him unfit for front line service.

On October 23rd, 1917, Thomas was transferred to 1st Canadian Convalescent Depot at Witley, where he met a nurse named Kitty Marie Andrews. In February Thomas was given permission to marry, and he and Kitty were married a month later in Brentford, Essex, on March 12th, 1919. A few months later, on May 22nd, he was transferred to 1st Canadian Discharge Depot in Buxton, to be processed for discharge.

After the war, Thomas and his new bride returned to Napanee. Thomas returned home on the RMS Adriatic and arrived back on August 7th. He was still suffering from a hernia from a year before and had a visible shrapnel scar on his left temple. Kitty passed away in 1944 at the age of 43 and Thomas married Claudia Louise a year later.

Thomas passed away on May 10th, 1975, at the age of 76. Thomas' brother, David, also survived the war.

Credit and many thanks go to Bryan Joyce for the above biography and image.

Bryan has written a book about Clarence McCabe's life, and this can be reviewed and bought via this link: Clarence McCabe