On 8th December 1940, like on other nights before, Frank reported to his post at the Most Holy Trinity Church, Dockhead.
That night there were heavy air raids and the church was bombed. Frank managed to extricate himself from the rubble. He then found out another Scout was trapped. Frank went back into the church’s ruins and helped rescue him.
Details vary between newspapers and a book printed at the time.
The “South London Press” of 13th December 1940 reported “Warden Davies (sic) had just been back to the post to report, and was then leaving the post, when the bomb fell and he was caught by its blast”
The “News Chronicle” of 12th March 1941 said “killed by a bomb soon after saving two people pinned under the debris of a house”.
The “Daily Mirror” of 12th March 1941 said “The Blitz was fierce that night last December. Davis, a warden, was on his beat when he found a fellow A.R.P. worker with a serious eye injury. He gave him first-aid treatment, took him to a post for further attention. Then he set out for his usual patrol – and was killed”
“The Times” of 18th March 1941 reported “was killed after rescuing a wounded fellow-messenger”.
“The Left Handshake” by Hilary St George Saunders published post-war in 1949 records on page 48 “Six Holborn Scouts won awards for gallantry and thirty Bermondsey Scouts, of whom one, Scout Frank Davis, aged seventeen, was killed in the rescue of a fellow passenger who had been wounded. For this he received a posthumous award of a Bronze Cross.”
“Southwark News” reported in a feature article on 2nd January 2015 “Warden Frank James Leopold Davis was just seventeen years old when a bomb hit Holy Trinity Church in Dockhead on Dec 8 1940. Initially he survived the bomb but one of his friends, a fellow messenger, was trapped under the rubble. Fearless Frank rushed back in and managed to save his friend but was himself killed in a further explosion”
No doubt there is truth in all the stories printed. But the most comprehensive version of events was in a newspaper cutting held by Frank’s sister Joyce.
“He and a friend on their way to their post, ran to smother a shower of incendiary bombs. Flying splinters injured the friend’s eyes. Carrying him to a First Aid Post , Frank ran back to finish the job. Two bombs fell.“
Working through that night with the bombs exploding all around, Frank returned to his duties as part of the Air Raid Patrol.
It was then that Frank was caught in bomb blasts and was killed.
Frank was 17.
Roll of fatalities, Holy Trinity Church; 8th December 1940
- Warden Frank James Leopold Davis (17) of 6 Parkers Row
- John Henry Hadlow (38) of 52 Parkers Row
- William George Munday (48) of 22 Arnold’s Estate
- George Clement Page (17) of 9 Parker’s Row in Dockhead Church Crypt (died same day in Guy’s Hospital)
- William George Mason (20) of 7 Arnold’s Estate (died on 10th December in Guy’s Hospital).
- Source: Southwark Local History Library