Lieutenant A G Davies DSC (deceased)
Albert George Davies was born on May 6th 1920 at Ramsgate. He was offered a choral scholarship by Westminster Abbey, but high Anglicanism overawed him. Instead he became a contemporary of Edward Heath, the future Prime Minister, at Chatham House School where the fees were four guineas a term. Encouraged by his father, who had been a telegraphist in the Royal Navy, young Davies sat the Civil Service examination for a naval scholarship, which he passed with good marks to join as a special entry cadet in September 1937. He recalled that, in his first ship, the light cruiser Newcastle, early in 1939, the official visit of the French President had necessitated for the last time naval officers to wear cocked hats, frock coats, epaulettes and white kid gloves. Soon after the outbreak of war he was at Scapa Flow when Gunther Prien in U-47 sank the battleship Royal Oak. In November he was still in Newcastle when she was adjacent to the armed merchant cruiser Rawalpindi on the Northern Patrol line between Scotland and Greenland. His career promised well when he was made sub-lieutenant of the gunroom of the battleship Queen Elizabeth, where he was expected to keep the young Australian, British and Polish midshipmen in order; but after a boisterous evening in Gibraltar, involving a stolen carpet and a runaway car, he was sent in disgrace to the submarine depot ship Medway. His introduction to the trade was harder than usual, the bullying Crap Miers declaring he would not have Davies in his submarine, Torbay, and E F Bertie Pizey, captain of Oberon, claiming exclusive use of Davies' childhood first name. Being pot valiant, Davies told Miers that he wouldn't serve with him anyway, and thereafter he hyphenated his first names, Albert-George. In August 1941 a shortage of officers meant Davies being lent to the submarine Tetrarch, without the usual training, and his first experience of being depth charged. Tetrarch had torpedoed an Italian merchant ship in the harbour of Benghazi, but while withdrawing through the swept channel it ran aground while submerged and was attacked by two destroyers for several hours. One of the last depth charge salvoes was so close that it blew Tetrarch free of the shingle bottom and it was able to creep away, low on battery power. Davies remembered how sweet the fresh air was when eventually she surfaced after dark. Davies was navigator of Thrasher in March 1942 when destroyers and aircraft hunted it off Crete. Surfacing afterwards, Davies heard a clanking noise but did not identify the cause. After writing up the attack log he went to sleep, unaware of what was happening 10 ft above him. Thrasher's captain, Rufus Mackenzie, had decided not to alarm the crew while two unexploded bombs lodged in Thrasher's casing were removed by the first officer, Lieutenant Peter Roberts and the second coxswain, Petty Officer Tom Gould. Roberts and Gould worked regardless of the risk that the bombs might explode when moved and that Thrasher would dive immediately if sighted by the enemy, thus drowning them: they were both awarded the Victoria Cross. After completing the perisher course for submarine commanders, his first command was the submarine Ursula, where his task was to train a Russian crew and hand it over to the Soviet navy. Lieutenant-Commander Albert-George Davies was the last British submariner to sink a Japanese warship in the Second World War. In April 1945 Davies was commanding the overseas patrol submarine Stubborn on an 11-week voyage from the Clyde to Fremantle to join the Anglo-Dutch 4th Submarine Flotilla, operating under the Americans. He was north of Bali when he heard that a Japanese destroyer was to pass though his area on July 25. Commencing a day-long watch listening on Asdic with an occasional all-round look by periscope, he was in a funk lest the Americans deprive him of his first opportunity to fire a shot in action. Nevertheless he managed several hours of good sleep until propellers were heard drawing close. Although the Japanese destroyer Nadakaze was zigzagging wildly, Davies found a firing position. Two in the salvo of four torpedoes fired at 3,000 yards range struck, and his spontaneous cry of We've blown his bloody arse right off was greeted by his crew's cheers. Davies wanted a prisoner for interrogation, but as he manoeuvred amongst the survivors one of them made what was taken a rude gesture, and was promptly shot through the head by the gunnery officer, using his pistol. It was an instinctive and unpremeditated action, but Davies decided that he must shoot all the survivors to prevent reprisals should Stubborn itself be later captured, and he sent for machine-guns to be brought to the bridge without relish. Looking back years later David was convinced that the decision he had made was the right one. However, an aircraft forced him to dive and, when he surfaced that night, there was no sign of survivors. In the course of this patrol, Davies also destroyed shipping by gunfire, bombarded a harbour in northern Bali, destroying a jetty and some landing craft, and boarded junks at night; in one of these incidents the gunnery officer went missing. Davies was awarded the DSC. From 1947 to 1949, he commanded the submarine Ambush, in which he conducted trials of an improved design of snort mast, which would enable submarines to recharge batteries while remaining submerged. He was then loaned to the Royal Indian Navy as an instructor and studied at the staff college in southern India, and afterwards was first lieutenant of the frigate Sparrow, when she doubled for Amethyst in making the film Yangtse Incident. When he retired from the Royal navy in 1958, Davies qualified as a barrister at Gray's Inn and worked for some years for the marine insurers Thomas Miller, managers of the UK P & I Club. He was secretary to the Williams Hudson shipping company, and latterly worked for the 600 Group. When Davies realised the unfair anomalies of the Ministry of Defence's pension scheme he crusaded to have them removed through the pages of The Daily Telegraph. Davies died on March 13th, 2004 aged 84.
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