Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (The 2/4th Battalion)

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1916, DECEMBER 24th – RELIEVED THE 2/4th ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT IN THE FRONT LINE ON CHRISTMAS EVE

 Trenches Near Grandcourt November and Dececember 1916

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

On Christmas Eve, 1916, the Battalion relieved the front line. Brown and Davenport took their companies to Desire and Regina. Battalion Headquarters had an improved position at Zollern Redoubt, and their old dug-out in Hessian was left to D Company Headquarters. Robinson with C Company was also in Hessian, to the left of D. His headquarters possessed plenty of depth but neither height nor breadth. The dug-out entrance was the size of a large letter-box and nearly level with the trench floor.

After the march up, the remainder of the night was devoted to the trying process of ‘getting touch.’ This meant finding the neighbouring sentry-posts on each flank–an important duty, for the Germans usually knew the date and sometimes the hour of our reliefs and the limits of frontage held by different units (we naturally were similarly informed about the enemy). For reasons of security no relief could be held complete before not only our own men were safely in but our flanks were established by touch with neighbouring posts.

In the course of the very relief I have mentioned, a platoon of one battalion reached the front line but remained lost for more than a day. It could neither get touch with others nor others with it. ‘Getting touch’ seemed easy on a map and was often done in statements over the telephone. Tangible relations were more difficult and efforts to obtain them often involved most exasperating situations, for whole nights could be spent meandering in search of positions, which in reality were only a few hundred yards distant. Total absence of guiding landmarks was freely remarked as the most striking characteristic of this part of the Somme area. I refer only to night movement, for by day there were always distant objects to steer by, and the foreground, seemingly a cratered wilderness of mud, to the trained eye wore a multitude of significant objects.

My last topic introduces the regimental guide. Guides performed some of the hardest and most responsible work of the war. Staff work could at time be botched or boggled without ill-effects; for mistakes by guides some heavy penalty was paid. Whenever a relief took place, men to lead up the incoming unit into the positions it was to occupy were sent back, usually one per platoon, or, in cases of difficult relief and when platoon strengths were different, one per sentry-post. Guides rarely received much credit when reliefs went well, but always the blame when they went ill. The private soldiers, who guided our troops into trench and battle, played a greater part in winning the war than any record has ever confessed.

War Diary of the 2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

1916-12-24

Regiment. 2/4th Royal Berkshire

Location France, Trenches

Entry Battn relieved by 2/4 OXFORDS – 1 Coy in support MOUQUET FARM, 1 Coy in dug outs at R26.b.5 9 R26a.27 and R32,g.8 and 2 Coys to WELLINGTON HUTS. Capt Bennett (OXFORDS) returned to his Bn. Draft of 76 arrived.

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1916, JUNE 29th – FIRST RAID BY THE 2/4th OXFORDS: BAPTISM OF FIRE

From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose M.C. (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

That same night (28th / 29th) the Battalion did its first raid, by B Company under Hugh Davenport. The raid was ordered at short notice and was a partial success. If the tangible results were few, B Company was very properly thanked for its bravery on this enterprise, which had to be carried out against uncut wire and unsubdued machine-guns. Zeder, a lieutenant with a South African D.C.M., was mortally wounded on the German wire and taken prisoner. The casualties were numerous. Davenport himself was wounded, but unselfishly refused treatment until his men had been fetched in. It was a night of battle and excitement. To the most hardened troops a barrage directed against crowded breastworks was never pleasant. The Battalion bore itself well and earned recital, albeit with some misdescription, in the English press a few days later.

At zero they all advanced, but the wire was insufficiently cut. Lieut, Stockton, with the right party, under very heavy fire cast both right and left about 50 yards to try to find a gap, but did not succeed in doing so, and brought the right party back. 2nd Lieut. Zeder, in charge of the left party, got up to the wire but could not get through, and this party suffered severely as they came back, 2nd Lieut. Zeder being killed. The supporting party were also held up by uncut wire, and eventually returned to the trenches, having lost 8 killed and about 30 wounded, nearly all of whom were brought in. Sergeant Prentice, Corporal Brereton, and Private Gardner received the Military Medal for their actions during this raid, and the G.O.C. 61st Division wrote that he considered it had been carefully planned and gallantly carried out. The failure of  the raid was due to the uncut wire.

KILLED IN ACTION JUNE 29th 1916

200305 Lance Corporal Albert Norris

2030 Lance Corporal Reginal Leslie Pink

5341 Private Percy Ball

201969 Private George Gladstone Burge

241361 Private Edward Busby

202002 Private Leslie Hine

4694 Private Harry Parker

5349 Private Walter Edward Frank Smith

5325 Private Kaleb A Wyatt

DIED OF WOUNDS JUNE 29th 1916

3554 Lance Sergeant Victor Maurice Elliott

6730 Private Noah Davies Huzzey (Formerly 1336, Welsh Regt.)

1916, JUNE 28th – PREPARING FOR THE FIRST RAID BY THE 2/4th OXFORDS

Extracted From The Regimental Chronicles of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

On the evening of 28/29th the Battalion had to carry out its first raid. Captain Davenport’s Company had been selected. The plan was to enter the enemy’s trenches, and penetrate to his support line if possible. Two parties were to enter the trenches at points about 100 yards apart, and a third party was to act as reserve and rearguard. Considerable hindrance was experienced by two exceptionally dark nights immediately preceding the raid, which made it impossible to ascertain with certainty whether the wire had been properly cut.

 From The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, by Captain G. K. Rose KC (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920)

By the end of June an intense feeling of expectancy had developed; activity on both sides reached the highest pitch. The Battalion was not slow in playing its part. One of the early casualties was Lieutenant Moberly, who performed a daring daylight reconnaissance up to the German wire. He was wounded and with great difficulty and only through remarkable pluck regained our lines.

On the morning of the 28th Lieut. K. E. Brown and 2nd Lieut. W. H. Moberley went out each by himself to reconnoitre the gaps in the wire. 2nd Lieut. Moberley was hit by a sniper and lay for 9 hours in a shell-hole before he could get back to our lines just as the raid was going out. Lieut. Brown remained out about 5 hours, and returned with the information that the wire at the left gap appeared to be sufficiently broken. In order to avoid the machine-gun fire with which the enemy always swept the top of the trenches at the hour fixed for zero, the various parties crept out into the No Man’s Land and lay there for an hour.

2/4th Oxfords, Laventie, May – October 1916

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

CHAPTER I.
LAVENTIE.
MAY TO OCTOBER, 1916.

On May 24, 1916, the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry landed in France. Members of the Battalion within a day or two were addressing their first field postcards to England. Active service, of Which the prospect had swung, now close, now far, for 18 months, had begun.

The 61st Division, to which the Battalion be- longed, concentrated in the Merville area. The usual period of ‘instruction’ followed. The 2/4th Oxfords went to the Fauquissart sector, east of Laventie. Soon the 61st relieved the Welsh Division, to which it had been temporarily apprenticed, and settled down to hold the line.

It was not long before the Battalion received what is usually termed its ‘ baptism of fire.’ Things were waking up along the front in anticipation of the Franco-British attack on the Somme. Raids took place frequently. Fighting patrols scoured No- Man’s-Land each night. In many places at once the enemy’s wire was bombarded to shreds.

By the end of June an intense feeling of expectancy had developed; activity on both sides reached the highest pitch. The Battalion was not slow in playing its part. One of the early casualties was Lieutenant Moberly, who performed a daring day-
light reconnaissance up to the German wire. He was wounded and with great difficulty and only through remarkable pluck regained our lines.

That same night the Battalion did its first raid, by B Company under Hugh Davenport. The raid was ordered at short notice and was a partial success. If the tangible results were few, B Company
was very properly thanked for its bravery on this enterprise, which had to be carried out against uncut wire and unsubdued machine-guns. Zeder, a lieutenant with a South African D.C.M., was mortally wounded on the German wire and taken prisoner. The casualties were numerous. Davenport himself was wounded, but unselfishly refused treatment until his men had been fetched in. It was a night of battle and excitement. To the most hardened troops a barrage directed against crowded breastworks was never pleasant. The Battalion bore itself well and earned recital, albeit with some misdescription, in the English press a few days later.

During July 1916 the Battalion was in and out of the breastworks between Fauquissart and Neuve Chapelle. When the 184th Infantry Brigade went back to rest the Battalion had billets on the outskirts of Merville, a friendly little town, since levelled in ruins ; and, when reserve to the Brigade, in Laventie. Brigade Headquarters were at the latter and also the quartermasters’ stores and transport of battalions in the line.

Some favourite spots were the defensive ‘ posts,’ placed a mile behind the front line and known as Tilleloy, Winchester, Dead End, Picantin. Reserve companies garrisoned these posts. No arduous duties spoilt the days; night work consisted chiefly in pushing trolley-loads of rations to the front line. Of these posts the best remembered would be Winchester, where existed a board bearing
the names of Wykhamists, whom chance had led that way. Battalion Headquarters were there for a long time and were comfortable enough with many ‘elephant’ dug-outs and half a farm-house for a mess the latter ludicrously decorated by some
predecessors with cuttings from La Vie Parisienne and other picture papers.

Though conditions were never quiet in the front line, during the summer of 1916 back area shelling was infrequent. Shells fell near Laventie cross- roads on most days and, when a 12 inch howitzer established itself behind the village, the Germans
retaliated upon it with 5.95, but otherwise shops and estaminets flourished with national nonchalance. The railway, which ran from La Gorgue to Armentieres, was used by night as far as Bac St. Maur

an instance of unenterprise on the part of German gunners. Despite official repudiation, on our side the principle of ‘ live and let live ‘ was still applied to back areas. Trench warfare, which in the words of a 1915 pamphlet ‘could and must cease’ had managed to survive that pamphlet and the abortive strategy of the battle of Loos. Until trench warfare ended divisional headquarters were not shelled.

Meanwhile the comparative deadlock in the Somme fighting rendered necessary vigorous measures against the enemy elsewhere on the front. A gas attack from the Fauquissart sector was planned but never carried out. Trench mortars and rifle grenades were continuously employed to make life as unpleasant as possible for the enemy, whose trenches soon became, to all appearances, a rubbish heap. All day and much of the night the
‘mediums’ fell in and about the German trenches and, it must be confessed, occasionally in our own as well. Whilst endeavouring to annihilate the Wick salient or some such target, one of our heaviest of heavy trench mortars dropped short (perhaps that is too much of a compliment to the particular shot) in our trenches near a company headquarters and almost upon a new concrete refuge, which the R.E. had just completed and not yet shown to the Brigadier. Though sometimes supplied, the cooperation of this arm was never asked for.

This harassing warfare had a crisis in July. The operations of July 19, which were shared with the 61st Division by the 5th Australian holding trenches further north, were designed as a demonstration to assist our attack upon the Somme and to hold opposite to the XI Corps certain German reserves, which, it was feared, would entrain at Lille and be sent south. That object was achieved, but at the cost of severe casualties to the divisions engaged, which were launched in daylight after artillery preparation, which results proved to have been inadequate, against a trench-system strongly manned and garrisoned by very numerous machine- guns. The objectives assigned to the 61st Division were not captured, while the Australians further north, after entering the German trenches and taking prisoners, though they held on tenaciously under heavy counter-attacks, were eventually forced to withdraw. ‘ The staff work,’ said the farewell
message from the XI Corps to the 61st Division three months later, ‘ for these operations was excellent.’ Men and officers alike did their utmost to make the attack of July 19 a success, and it
behoves all to remember the sacrifice of those who fell with appropriate gratitude. It was probably the last occasion on which large parties of storming infantry were sent forward through ‘sally ports’.

The Battalion was in reserve for the attack. C Company, which formed a carrying party during the fighting, lost rather heavily, but the rest of the Battalion, though moved hither and thither under heavy shelling, suffered few casualties. When the battle was over, companies relieved part of the line and held the trenches until normal conditions returned.

Soon after these events the Battalion was unlucky to be deprived of Colonel Ames, a leader whose energy and common sense could ill be spared. This was the first change which the Battalion had in its Commanding Officer, and it was much regretted. A change in Adjutant had occurred likewise, Major D. M. Rose having been
invalided to England early in July and his place taken by R. F. Cuthbert, formerly commander of D Company. Orderly Room work passed from safe hands into hands equally safe. Soon after-
wards I joined the Battalion, having been transferred from the 1/4th, and received command of D Company. The new Commanding Officer, Major R. Bellamy, D.S.O., came from the Royal Sussex Regiment and assumed command early in August. Robinson, an officer from the Middlesex and one of the best the Battalion ever had, Callender and Barton also joined about this time. Brucker, of C Company, became Adjutant of the 61st Divisional School, and command of his company passed to Kenneth Brown, a great fighter and best of comrades, the first member of this Battalion to win the Military Cross. Major Beaman was still Second in Command. Two original officers of the 2/4th, Jack Bennett and Hugh Davenport, commanded A and B Companies respectively. W. A. Hobbs, well known as Mayor of Henley, was Quartermaster, and ‘Bob’ Abraham the Transport
Officer. Regimental Sergeant-Major Douglas and Regimental Quartermaster-Sergeant Hedges were the senior warrant officers.

Higher up a new Brigadier in the person of General Dugan arrived and held command for a short while. The General, I regret to say, did not stay long enough for the full benefit of his experience and geniality to accrue, a fragment of a Stokes’ mortar shell wounding him at a demonstration near Merville and causing his retirement to hospital. The new Brigadier, the Hon. R. White, C.M.G., joined us at the beginning of September, 1916, from action on the Somme, and soon made his cheery criticisms felt.

After the operations of July 19 the former methods of trench warfare were resumed. The Division’s casualties in the attack had been over 2,000, and time was required to reorganise and make up these losses.

Early in August an unlucky shell deprived the Battalion of one of its best officers. Lieutenant Tiddy had joined the Infantry in a spirit of duty and self-sacrifice, which his service as an officer had proved but to which his death more amply testified. The regrets of friends and comrades measured the Battalion’s loss.

At 10 p.m. on August 19 a raid upon the German trenches near the ‘Sugar Loaf’ was carried out by A Company. The raid was part of an elaborate scheme in which the Australians upon the left and
the 2 /5th Gloucesters on our own front co-operated. The leading bombing party, which Bennett sent forward under Sergeant Hinton, quickly succeeded in reaching the German parapet and was doing well, when a Mills bomb, dropped or inaccurately thrown, fell amongst the men. The plan was spoilt.
A miniature panic ensued, which Bennett and his Sergeant-Major found it difficult to check. As in many raids, a message to retire was passed. The wounded were safely brought in by Bennett, whose control and leadership were worthy of a luckier
enterprise.

The Battalion was not called upon for much fighting activity in September, 1916. Raids and rumours of raids kept many of us busy. An attack by the 184th Brigade upon the Wick salient was
planned, but somewhat too openly discussed and practised to deceive, I fancy, even the participating infantry into the belief that it was really to take place. Upon the demolished German trenches
many raids were made. In the course of these raids, the honour of which was generously shared between all battalions in the Brigade, sometimes by means of the Bangalore Torpedo, sometimes by the easier and more subtle method of just walking into them, the enemy’s front line was usually entered; and rarely did a raiding party return without the capture of at least an old bomb, an entrenching tool or even a live German. These ‘ identification ‘ raids possibly did as much to identify ourselves to the enemy as to identify him to us, but they proved useful occasions on which to send parties ‘ over the top’ (always an enjoyable treat!) and gave practice to our trench mortars, which fired remarkably well and drew down little retaliation always the bugbear of the trench mortar.

1 A failure of this kind, was far less due to any indetermination of the men than to the complex nature of the scheme, which any misadventure was capable of upsetting-. On this occasion the ‘ order to retire ‘ was said to have been of German manufacture, but such explanation deserved a grain of salt. Owing to the danger of its unauthorised use, the word ‘ retire ‘ was prohibited by Army orders.

The mention of these things may make dull reading to the blase warrior of later battlefields, but, as there are some whose last experience abroad was during Laventie days and who may read these lines, I feel bound to recall our old friend (or enemy) the
trench mortar, the rent-free (but not rat-free) dug- out among the sandbags, the smelly cookhouses, whose improvident fires were the scandal of many a red-hatted visitor to the trenches, the mines, with their population of Colonial miners doing mysterious work in their basements of clay and flinging up a welter of slimy blue sandbags all these deserve mention, if no more, lest they be too soon forgotten.

Days, too, in Riez Bailleul, Estaires and Merville will be remembered, days rendered vaguely precious by the subsequent destruction of those villages and by lost comrades. Those of the
Battalion who fell in 1916 were mostly buried in Laventie and outside Merville. Though both were being fought over in 1918 and many shells fell among the graves, the crosses were not much damaged ; inscriptions, if nearly obliterated, were then
renewed when, by the opportunity of chance, the Battalion found itself once more crossing the familiar area, before it helped to establish a line upon the redoubtable Aubers ridge, to gain which so many lives at the old 1915 battles of Neuve Chapelle and
Festubert had been expended.

It was a fine autumn. The French civilians were getting in their crops within a mile or two of the trenches, while we did a series of tours in the Moated Grange sector, with rest billets at the little
village of Riez Bailleul.

And then box respirators were issued.

Laventie days are remembered with affection by old members of the Battalion. In October, 1916, however, there were some not sorry to quit an area, which in winter became one of the wettest and most dismal in France. The Somme battle, which for three months had rumbled in the distance like a huge thunderstorm, was a magnet to attract all divisions in turn. The predictions of the French billet keepers were realised at the end of October, when the 2/4th Oxfords were relieved in the trenches by a battalion of the Middlesex Regiment and prepared to march southwards to the Somme.”

Major Hugh Nares Davenport

From G. K. Rose, The Story of the 2/4th Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

“I recall especially the work of some who have not returned; Davenport, Scott, Stockton, Zeder, and Tiddy among the officers, and among the non-commissioned officers and men a host of good comrades.”

“That same night the Battalion did its first raid, by B Company under Hugh Davenport. The raid was ordered at short notice and was a partial success. If the tangible results were few, B Company was very properly thanked for its bravery on this enterprise, which had to be carried out against uncut wire and unsubdued machine-guns. Zeder, a lieutenant with a South African D.C.M., was mortally wounded on the German wire and taken prisoner. The casualties were numerous. Davenport himself was wounded, but unselfishly refused treatment until his men had been fetched in. It was a night of battle and excitement. To the most hardened troops a barrage directed against crowded
breastworks was never pleasant. The Battalion bore itself well and earned recital, albeit with some misdescription, in the English press a few days later.”

“Two original officers of the 2/4th, Jack Bennett and Hugh Davenport, commanded A and B Companies respectively.”

“On Christmas eve, 1916, the Battalion relieved the front line. Brown and Davenport took their
companies to Desire and Regina.”

“For conditions such as I have described the Battalion returned to do another tour in the Ablaincourt sector. The line was again held by A on the left (owing to the former three-company system no proper interchange had been possible) and bv B on the right. Davenport went to my old headquarters, which the enemy was now busy, trench- mortaring, and held half the front previously held by C, which, with D .Company, was now in support.’

23rd March 1918

“Moberly’s force comprised many administrative personnel. ‘What your men lack in numbers they must make up in courage,’ was the Major-General’s encouragement. But the men were not at once put to the test. The 20th Division, which was covering the retreat across the Somme, relieved the Offoy rear-guard, of which Davenport had now assumed command, early in the morning of March 23, and Bennett was likewise relieved in his duties at Voyennes, where the bridge was blown up.”

“Though the Offoy bridgehead had been taken over by the 20th Division, Davenport’s troops were kept in support along the railway embankment at Hombleux, for it was feared that the enemy had already commenced to cross the Somme at Ham. During the morning of the 23rd. Davenport received peremptory orders to make a counter-attack against the town with the object of regaining possession of its bridgehead. Considerable success resulted; Verlaines was cleared of the enemy’s patrols, and the advance reached the ridge east of that village. With fresh troops acting on a concerted plan something might have been accomplished. Davenport’s men were a disorganised mixture of many battalions, including, besides the Oxfords and other representatives of the I84th Brigade, a number of Cornwalls and King’s Liverpools. They were unfed, and the demoralisation of the retreat was beginning to do its work. As always on these occasions, when officers of different services were thrown together, divided counsels were the result. Moberly, an officer who could have been relied upon to make the best of the situation, was wounded in the leg during a moonlight reconnaissance with Davenport.

24th March 1918

By March 24 the position was unaltered the troops were still lining the ridge east of Verlaines and awaited the enemy’s next move with their field of fire in many cases masked by, or masking, that of their comrades. Against this type of defence the enemv’s tactics did not require to be as infallible as they perhaps seemed. Our tfity is drm n t{, these [“.nglish troops, disorganised, with mt their «,n proper commanders, unsupplied with rations–thc stop-gaps thrust forward in the last stages of a retreat. At 0 a.m. the enemy, whose patrols had during the night of Match 23/24 been feeling their way up the slopes frç»m the Somme Canal, commenced to press forward in earnest. The mixed troops, who were lining the ridge, had been ‘down’ too long to offer much resistance. They melted away, as leaderless troops will. Davenport, a gallant officer who to the very last never spared himself, was killed, shot through the head at Verlaines.”

From: Record of service of solicitors and articled clerks with His Majesty’s forces, 1914-1919 (1920)

HUGH NARES DAVENPORT.

Admitted July 1911. Member of Davenport & Rose, of Oxford. Joined Sept. 1914, as Lieut., 4th Batt. Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry, subsequently promoted Capt. and Major, attached to 2/6 Batt. Royal Warwickshire Regt. Awarded the M.C. and recommended for Bar. Served in France. Reported missing March 26, 1918, since presumed killed on that date near Verlaines.

Name: DAVENPORT, HUGH NARES
Initials: H N
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Major
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Age: 32
Date of Death: 24/03/1918
Awards: M C
Additional information: Son of Thomas Marriott Davenport, of Headington Hill, Oxford.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: II. B. 1.
Cemetery: HAM BRITISH CEMETERY, MUILLE-VILLETTE

First World War in Headington
Roll of Honour of All Saints Church, Highfield
Hugh Nares DAVENPORT (1886–1918)

Hugh Nares Davenport was born in Davenport House, Headington on 18 February 1886. He was the son of Thomas Marriott Davenport (born in St Peter-in-the East parish, Oxford in 1841) and Emily Jemima Clutterbuck (born in Watford in c.1850). Hugh’s father was a solicitor and his mother was the daughter of James Clutterbuck, the Vicar of Long Wittenham, and they were married in the third quarter of 1877 in the Wallingford Registration District. They had eleven children:

* Henry Reginald Davenport (born at 12 Canterbury Road, Oxford in 1878; died aged 21 at the Acland Home in Oxford and buried at Headington Cemetery on 13 January 1900)
* Lucy Catherine Davenport (born at 12 Canterbury Road, Oxford on 10 November 1879 and baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 2 January 1880)
* Gilbert Capell Davenport (born at 12 Canterbury Road, Oxford on 17 April 1881 and baptised at SS Philip & James Church on 22 May 1881)
* Violet Louisa Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 24 June 1883; died aged 10, buried at Headington Cemetery on 29 January 1894)
* Norah Emily Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 14 December 1884)
* Hugh Nares Davenport (born at Davenport House on 18 February 1886, baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 11 April 1886)
* Evelyn Mary Davenport (born at Davenport House on 29 March 1887, baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 30 April 1887)
* Leonard Marriott Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 9 May 1889)
* James Salter Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington on 8 July 1890 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 12 August 1890)
* Cecil Thornhill Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington on 3 February 1892 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 10 March 1892)
* Rachel Margaret Davenport (born at Davenport House, Headington on 15 April 1895 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 27 May 1895).

When they were first married, Hugh’s parents lived at 12 Canterbury Road in North Oxford. In 1881 Hugh’s father Thomas succeeded his own father, John Marriott Davenport, as Clerk of the Peace for Oxford, and in 1882 he moved with his family into Davenport House at the top of Headington Hill, which had been formerly occupied by his brother.

At the time of the 1891 census Hugh’s parents were away from home, and five of their young children, including five-year-old Hugh, were left at Davenport House with the family’s six servants (a nurse, cook, parlour maid, house maid, kitchen maid, under nurse, and nursery maid).

Hugh was sent away to board at Marlborough School, where at the age of fifteen he spent census night of 1901. From there he went on to study at the University of Oxford, matriculating from Oriel College on 21 October 1904. He passed Responsions (the preliminary examinations for entry) in Hilary Term 1904 and compulsory examinations in Latin and Greek in Hilary Term 1905 and Holy Scripture in Michaelmas Term 1905. In the Final Pass School, in Trinity Term 1907 he passed examinations in the following groups: A1 (for which two books, either both Greek, or one Greek and one Latin, were studied) and in Michaelmas Term 1907 B3 (the Elements of Political Economy), and B4 (a branch of Legal Study) . He was awarded his B.A. at a degree ceremony on 23 January 1908.

The 1911 census shows Hugh Davenport as a law student of 25, living at home at Davenport House with his parents, his three sisters Lucy, Norah, and Evelyn, his brother Cecil who was now an Oxford undergraduate, and their five servants.

Hugh Davenport’s parents were spared from seeing two of their sons die in the First World War: his father Thomas Davenport died at Davenport House and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 1 September 1913 and his mother Emily died at the Acland Home and was buried with him on 17 August 1915.

Poppy Hugh Davenport volunteered to serve In the First World War at the earliest opportunity, commencing service on 14 September 1914. He first served as a Captain in the 2nd/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and then as a Major in the 2nd/6th Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He served in France between 1915 and 1918, and was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Military Cross. He was killed in action near Ham at the age of 32 on 24 March 1918, and is buried at the Ham British Cemetery at Muille Villette (I. B. 1). He is listed on the roll of honour of All Saints Church, Highfield.

Hugh Davenport’s younger brother Leonard also died in the First World War, at the age 27 on 6 September 1916. His other brothers came back: his older brother Gilbert Capell Davenport served with the 7th Hampshire Regiment from 1914 in India and Aden; and his youngest brother Cecil was a Second Lieutenant in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry by 1916.
After the War

Hugh Davenport’s Davenport’s older brother Gilbert Capell Davenport became a Land Agent and from 1936 lived at Quarry House in Quarry Road. His younger brother James became a Brigadier and survived until 1954.

Major Hugh Nares Davenport

Name: DAVENPORT, HUGH NARES
Initials: H N
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Major
Regiment/Service: Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit Text: 2nd/4th Bn.
Age:32
Date of Death: 24/03/1918
Awards: M C
Additional information: Son of Thomas Marriott Davenport, of Headington Hill, Oxford.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: II. B. 1.
Cemetery: HAM BRITISH CEMETERY, MUILLE-VILLETTE

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