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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. C R Davis

Carl Raymond Davis was born on 30th July 1911 at Krugersdorp, Transvaal, South Africa, son of Carl Raymond Davis (1874-1956) and Clara May Davis (nee Wood 1876-1921) of Fryern, Storrington, Sussex.

His father, an American citizen, was in South Africa as a mine manager.

He attended Ridge School, Johannesburg and later Sherborne School (Westcott House) in the UK from September 1924 to July 1929.

Davis then went on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge and McGill University, Montreal where he qualified as a mining engineer.



He took flying lessons in New Jersey before becoming a British citizen in 1932 and returning to the United Kingdom in 1935,

He lived in London during the 1930s and joined 601 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force at Hendon, being commissioned in August 1936.

His mother had died of cancer in 1921 and his father remarried, the couple now lived at Fryern Hall (now demolished) in Sussex.

On 29th July 1937 his parents invited the squadron to fly to a social event there, landing in the estate grounds. Davis' colleague P/O PB Robinson took Hawker Demon K5724 with AC Saunders as passenger. When nearly at their destination the aircraft caught fire. He was able to crash land at Cootham (now Parham) airfield near Storrington. Robinson dragged his passenger, who was concussed, from the wreckage and only sustained a cut on his forehead. The Demon burned out (below).



Davis was called to full-time service on 27th August 1939 and later that year flew one of the six 601 Squadron Blenheims that attacked the German seaplane base at Borkum on 27th November (below).



Once the Battle of Britain began, Davis claimed a Me110 destroyed on 11th July 1940 plus a Me109 damaged on 26th July, two Me110s probably destroyed and one damaged on the 11th August. Then on the 13th August three Me110s destroyed, one probably destroyed, one Ju88 shared damaged and one Me110 damaged.

This was followed by Ju88s destroyed on 15th and 16th August, a Me109 and a Ju87 Stuka destroyed on the 18th, a Me110 probably destroyed on the 31st and then a Me110 destroyed on 4th September.


Above: he had married Katharine Anne Hope, sister of Sir Archibald Hope of 601 Squadron, in Edinburgh on 29th April 1939.


He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 30th August. Davis was shot down and killed on 6th September when his Hurricane P3363 was shot down into the garden of Canterbury Cottage, Matfield near Tunbridge Wells. He was 29.

He is buried near the family home in Storrington, West Sussex at St.Mary's Church.



Additional research courtesy of Sherborne School Archives.

Subsequent note.

We have been fortunate in making contact with the children of Carl Davis's only son Michael (died 2001) - they of course never knew Carl but they and their own children (Carl's great-grandchildren) are greatly interested in Carl and were able to send us some photos previously unseen outside the family and were able to tell us that Carl was always known by his second name Raymond.

They also sent a very sombre letter written by a witness to the crash:


Matfield House

12 September 1940

Dear Mrs Davis

I hope you will not mind receiving this letter from a stranger, one who saw the air battle in which your husband gave his life on Friday morning last, his plane falling in a cottage garden within a hundred yards of this house.

I am able to tell you that he died in the air instantaneously as a result of two bullets through the brain, his machine afterwards breaking in two and falling.

I was the first to enter the cottage garden and saw him sitting in his place, with his feet on the rudder bar and the belt still fastened round his waist, clearly showing that he had not moved again after being attacked. I placed a covering over him. An ambulance was summoned and he was removed to the mortuary of our local hospital. His pocket book, containing his identity card, a snapshot and one or two licences, was taken by the company commander of the Home Guard who has forwarded it to the RAF authority.

In order to be certain of my facts I visited the hospital two days later, where I found him lying with a bunch of roses on his breast, and, in company with the Matron, I examined his head and she agreed with me that death had been instantaneous.

As a fighter of the last war, I pay homage to a fighter of today, and while I know that nothing I may say can be of any real comfort to you, I do ask you to think of him as soaring into the sky, on that glorious sunny morning, with a smile on his lips and a song in his heart, to do battle for this England of ours, and then making the Supreme Sacrifice.

Please believe that there is no need for you to acknowledge this letter, if you would rather not. I shall be thinking of you, and of him, at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Yours sincerely

Eric W Hubbard

Shall we not offer of our best and highest?
When Duty calls, can we forbear to give?
This be thy record, where in peace thou liest,
“He gave his life, that England’s soul should live”.

Rest well, dear son, for at the Great Awaking
When Christ shall call His Soldiers to his side,
His promise stands, there shall be no forsaking
Of those who fought for Him, and fighting, died.



One of his great-grandchildren, Jack, is pictured in Carl's flying boots ­ his parents had great trouble explaining that he could not take off and fly around the garden.


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