I count myself fortunate to have been able to return the last ‘Dead Man’s Penny’ to the family of Fernand Colleaux. That said, I’m equally fortunate to now have the penny awarded to the family of Thomas Davis. Although I have not been able to locate photos, I have found a myriad of life and military records that give us a picture of who Thomas was and what was his fate.
Thomas James Davis was born in Lower Fort Garry, Manitoba in 1896. By his record, it appears that by the time he enlisted in 1915 at the age of eighteen, he was already in the active reserve militia. Despite the meat grinder that was developing in the muddy fields of Belgium and France, there was great enthusiasm in the Commonwealth to fight the ‘Hun’, and Thomas appears to have been ready to serve.
With brown eyes and dark brown hair, and standing 5 foot 9 inches tall, Thomas was probably a little above average height for the time. His brother Richmond Thomas, also of Fort Garry, is listed as his next of kin. Of Presbyterian faith, he was not married and his vocation was listed as farmhand.
Thomas James Davis, service number 47560, was part of the CEF Canadian Machine Gun Corps. He was one of the 3,598 Canadians who fell at the battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917. and is interred in Ecoivres Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
Thomas is honoured in a little country church in Manitoba. The Little Britain United Church proudly displays his name, along with a dozen or so other parishioners on a roll of honour.
Today, I honour Thomas James Davis of Lower Fort Garry, Manitoba. May he rest in eternal peace.