b. 1932 | British Army
Don Davies served in the Territorial Army Reserve Volunteers for over 30 years where he specialised as a driver. He also played an officer in the ‘Days of Hope’ TV series during the 1970s and went onto work as a commerical driver until the closure of the mines in the 1980s.
In the first of the two attached audio recordings, Don can be heard describing his childhood. He vividly remembers watching the Swansea Blitz in 1941 from his home in Llandybie; recalls the story of a German pilot shot down in these raids, and the regular visits to his parent’s house from Italian POW’s, in one case forming a bond which survives to this day. Don also remembers the impact upon the civilian population in Llandybie following the arrival of the American troops. Remarkably, in Christmas 1941 Don and his brother Dennis sent a Christmas Card to the Prime Minister and in return received a personally hand-written and signed letter from Winston Churchill (see attached photo).
By 1948, Don had left school. He was initially employed in a factory manufacturing bedspring’s before becoming an apprentice car mechanic in a local garage. Two years later, Don was conscripted for National Service in the British Army alongside his twin brother, Dennis. After undertaking their basic training in Brecon with the Royal Welch Regiment and preparing to leave for Korea, the twins were held back at the last moment by their CO. Frustrated and disappointed they didn’t understand the reason why. Many years later their mother told them that she had made a personal appeal to the CO to ‘look after her boys’ as she had ‘lost one’ already. Both Don and Dennis served the whole of their two years National Service in Dering Lines, Brecon.
Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR)
In the second of the two audio recordings, Don recounts his long service in Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR), with whom he served for the next 30years. During this period, he was invariably the driver for the Company Commanding Officer, reaching the rank of Sergeant with postings in the UK and Germany. In 1982 at the grand old age of 50yrs, Don was called up to the Falklands conflict but due to another ‘quirk of fate’ on the way to Southampton Docks narrowly missed out this posting. During the mid-1970’s film Director Ken Loach filmed his TV series ‘Days of Hope’ which contains scenes filmed in and around Defensible Barracks Pembroke Dock with Don’s 224 TA Squadron used as film extras. Much to his amusement, Don was ‘promoted’ to play an Officer in the film whereas the genuine Officers were demoted by the Director to play Privates.
Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR)
Following the end of conscription during the 1960s the Territorial Army (TA) was reoganised into the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve (TAVR). In 1079 the name was restored to the Territorial Army (TA) and this force continues to supply troops up to batallion size to this day.
Days of Hope
Days of Hope is a BBC television drama serial produced in 1975. The series dealt with the lives of a working-class family from the turmoils of the First World War in 1916 to the General Strike in 1926. It was written by Jim Allen, produced by Tony Garnett and directed by Ken Loach.
Now aged 88yrs, Don remains ‘an Advanced Motorist’. Throughout his career he worked in motor transport, initially as a mechanic, driving lorries and staff cars in the Army, six years as a bus driver, and then as lorry driver with the National Coal Board. For the final ten years of his career, Don was the Transport Foreman in the N.C.B. depot in Ammanford. Due to the Thatcher government closures of the coal mining industry in 1984/5 Don, like so many others’, lost his job.
Today, Don retains his friendships from his Army days and in Italy with the 96yr old wife of the Italian POW who regularly visited his parent’s house during WW2, and he remains proud of his association with the local Bangladeshi community around the Ammanford area.
Don Davies sharing a drink with fellow members of 224 Squadron in Germany after becoming winners of an inter-squadron competition.
After finishing National Service in 1952 L/Cpl Don Davies signed onto the TAVR, receiving a ‘bounty’ of £150, becoming a member of the so called ‘Ever-Readies’, ready because they could be expected to be called into battle at a moment’s notice. Don wryly remembered that the £150 bounty was heavily taxed, leaving him with just £66!
‘Beacon for the Luftwaffe’. The Furnace mentioned in Don Davies audio. A German aircrew member who had been shot down was being treated as a patient in Morriston Hospital and described to the patient next to him, how the fire from the furnace guided their bombers to Swansea. The patient, who was well known to Don and his family, then reported this to the authorities. As a result, the furnace was quickly capped so that its flames were not visible to the Luftwaffe making subsequent raids.
Don Davies on helicopter fueling training course