Museum to showcase trench warfare heroics

Hero soldier John Davies  and his letters will feature in a new exhibition
Hero soldier John Davies and his letters will feature in a new exhibition

The heroic wartime exploits of a St Helens soldier are set to be part of a new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester.

From Street To Trench: A War That Shapes A Region will examine the lives of people from across the North West during the Great War.

It will showcase more than 200 personal objects, films, sound recordings, photographs, artworks and letters from wartime.

Among those featured will be keepsakes belonging to Victoria Cross (VC) recipient John Davies who lived in the town before conflict broke out.

A spokesman for the museum said: “John was awarded the VC, the highest military decoration for bravery in the face of the enemy for his actions, which he received after returning home.

“Many of these fascinating items - from John and many more soldiers and their families - will be on public display for the first time.”

The archives show that John served with the 11th Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment, known as the St Helens Pioneers.

On March 24, 1918, the soldiers came under heavy attack near Eppeville in France.

John is said to have held up the German advance by firing a Lewis light machine gun despite being surrounded by the enemy, allowing others from his battalion to escape.

He was taken as a prisoner-of-war and held in a camp in Germany but survived the war and in peacetime was invited to a special ceremonial event at Buckingham Palace in 1920.

Among the artefacts is a letter written to John’s mother informing her that her son was missing and feared dead.

The letter dated April 14, 1918, reads: “By his very gallant conduct he no doubt saved the lives of many of his comrades. It is to be feared that there is very little hope of his being alive.”