Philip Davey VC MM

b. 10/10/1896 Adelaide, Australia. d. 21/12/1953 Adelaide, Australia.

Philip Davey (1896-1953) was born on 10th October 1896 at Unley, South Australia, son of William George Davey, carpenter, and his wife Elizabeth, née O’Neill. Educated at Flinders Street Model School and Goodwood Public School, he worked as a horse-driver at the time of his enlistment in the Australian Imperial Force at Morphettville on 22nd December 1914.

Philip Davey VC MM

Davey embarked on 2nd February 1915 at Melbourne with the 10th Battalion’s 2nd reinforcement and proceeded to Egypt and Lemnos prior to the attack on Gallipoli on 25th April 1915. He was present at the landing and took part in four days of heavy fighting which followed. He was engaged in the subsequent trench fighting until eventually invalided from the peninsula with enteric fever. After treatment at the 1st Australian General Hospital at Heliopolis, Egypt, he returned to Australia in January 1916. On 27th June Davey re-embarked with the 10th Battalion’s 18th reinforcements and proceeded to England. He joined his battalion in France in September just before it moved into the line at Hill 60 in the Ypres sector. He was accidentally wounded on 15th March 1917 and was gassed on 3rd October.

At Warneton, Belgium, in the Messines sector on 3rd January 1918, Davey gained the Military Medal for crawling into no man’s land under heavy fire to rescue a badly wounded comrade. His brother Claude, serving in the same battalion, had received the same award the previous year, only three months before he was killed in action at Bullecourt in 1917. Another brother, Richard, was also awarded it.

Davey was promoted corporal on 24th April 1918. He took part in an attack on enemy positions at Merris, France, on 28th June. His platoon came under heavy fire and the commander was killed. Survivors were forced to shelter in a ditch under almost point-blank fire from a German machine-gun. Davey then made a single-handed attack on the enemy post until forced to return to his own position for more hand-grenades; attacking again, he killed the crew and captured the gun. He then mounted the machine-gun in a new post and efficiently used it during a counter-attack until he was wounded. For his bravery and determination in this action he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Davey’s wounds were severe and he was invalided to hospital at Weymouth, England. On 19th October he embarked for return to Australia where he was discharged from the A.I.F. on 24th February next year.

After the war Davey had three separate periods of employment as a labourer and linesman with the South Australian Railways: from 27th April 1926 to 4th October 1938; from 6th March 1939 to 12th February 1942; and from 17th December 1943 to 22nd February 1946. He married Eugene Agnes Tomlinson on 25th August 1928, they had no children. He suffered from bronchitis and emphysema for years before his death from a coronary occlusion at the Repatriation General Hospital, Springbank, on 21st December 1953. He was buried with full military honours in the A.I.F. Garden of Memorial cemetery, West Terrace, Adelaide.

Davey’s medals including the VC, MM, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, King George VI Coronation Medal 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 are held by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.





Steve Lee – Image of Davey’s medal group at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.