Fallen soldier whose family founded local building society remembered by University of Leicester

Posted by ap507 at Nov 02, 2016 12:03 PM |
Friday 4 November marks centenary of death of soldier Arthur Edward Davis who fought during First World War

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 2 November 2016

An image of Private Arthur Edward Davis is available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/vtkw9zm7v6x42hm/AACz0lyDQaGiLOHooxH4CHtya?dl=0

A local soldier who fought during the First World War is being remembered on the centenary of his death by the University of Leicester on Friday 4 November.

Arthur Edward Davis, Private in the 11th Royal Fusiliers who served in France, passed away on 4 November 1916, just a few days before the Battle of the Somme concluded.

His sacrifice inspired one of the first donations to establish the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College, sent to W. G. Gibbs, College Secretary, by J. H. Davis, Arthur’s brother, on 4 November 1921.

A brief note sent with a cheque for £105 – almost £10,000 today - survives in the University of Leicester Archives, requesting that the donation be received “In memoriam Arthur Edward Davis”.

Davis’s donation was one of the first donations to establish Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College as a living memorial to commemorate the losses and sacrifices of the First World War.

The now University of Leicester continues this tradition and its motto 'Ut vitam habeant' ('that they may have life') stands as a permanent reminder on every publication and degree certificate issued since.

Born in Leicester on 4 August 1882, Davis was the son of Samuel Davis, manager of the Leicester Permanent Building Society, and grandson of John Henry Davis, its founder.

The family business, the Leicester Permanent Building Society, merged with the Leicester Temperance Building Society in 1974 to form the Leicester Building Society, a forerunner to the Alliance and Leicester bank.

In 1897 he went to study at Mill Hill School where he played cricket for the first XI. He went on to make 21 first-class appearances for Leicestershire between 1901 and 1908. 

Information about Davis is contained in an ornate leather-bound volume known as the Memorial Portraits Book at the University of Leicester Archives.

The volume contains photographs and biographical notices of prominent donors towards the foundation of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College in 1921.

There are also a number of portraits and accounts of those honoured with gifts given in memoriam.

The below brief note is all that is recorded about Arthur Edward Davis, who was killed in action during the final days of the Battle of the Somme:

“Mr Davis was educated at Mill Hill School, London. He became a cricketer of distinction and played for Leicestershire. In the great War he joined as a Private the 11th Royal Fusiliers and served in France, where he was killed in 1916”.

Arthur Davis's name was later included in a memorial tablet at University College dedicated to the memory of soldiers who had been killed in the First World War.

The dedication of the war memorials took place on 11 October 1931 at the College’s Annual Commemorative Service, led by The Right Rev Edward Arthur Burroughs, Lord Bishop of Ripon.

Mr Davis’s memory continues to live on at the University of Leicester - the Davis family home on Upper New Walk, The Friars, is now a University of Leicester property housing the Department of Criminology.

Rosie O’Connor, Legacy Officer with the Development and Alumni Relations Office at the University of Leicester, said: “I think it is fair to say, that without in memoriam gifts like this one, made by a brother who gave in loving memory of his sibling, set in the belief that with education comes peace and with the hope that no other family should have to experience what they had to, the University of Leicester as we know it; our research findings, our thousands of graduates, our breakthroughs, would simply not exist. For this upmost generosity in the face of such utter sadness we are forever thankful.”

More information about Arthur Edward Davis is available here: http://staffblogs.le.ac.uk/specialcollections/specialcollections/?p=1081


Notes to editors:

For more information contact Dr Simon Dixon on snd6@le.ac.uk

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