Men serving in the Royal Army Service Corps (the ‘Royal’ was only added in 1918) are among the most difficult to research, so vast was the numbers of camps and depots in which they served in the Lines of Communication", the supply lines from port to front line, and the camps, stores, dumps, and workshops of the rear areas. At peak, the ASC numbered an incredible 10,547 officers and 315,334 men. In addition were tens of thousands of Indian, Egyptian, Chinese and other native labourers, carriers and stores men, under orders of the ASC. The ASC was organised into Companies, each fulfilling a specific role. Some were under orders of or attached to the Divisions of the army; the rest were under direct orders of the higher formations of Corps, Army or the GHQ of the army in each theatre of war. These comprised the Base Depots on the coast, the Horse Transport Companies, Mechanical Transport Companies (including Companies in Divisional Supply Columns, Ammunition Parks and Companies attached to the heavy artillery, Omnibus Companies, Motor Ambulance Convoys, Bridging and Pontoon units and Workshops), and finally the Army Remounts Service and the ASC Labour Companies.
Identification of a soldier’s individual service in any of these areas is difficult enough if his army records were lucky enough to survive the London blitz. If, as in the case of William Davey, all we have to go on is a choice of four possible medal cards, the task becomes impossible unless family memory or the survival of letters and other documents can help us forward. These four medal cards, attached to this site, are the only ones listing a William Davey serving in the Royal Army Service Corps, and we can be fairly sure from the 1891 and 1901 census returns that William had no middle name. (There are fourteen other cards listing a William Davey with a middle name who served in the RASC.) Thus we have no indication of when William enlisted.
William’s father, also a William, as recorded in the 1901 census was a labourer living in a four-roomed cottage on Church Hill, with his wife Jane and two sons, Thomas aged 16 and William aged 15. Thomas’ war service is recorded on this Memorial Roll, he served in the Devons. William chose instead to join the Army Service Corps, so it is likely that he enlisted as a volunteer, although his name is not listed with those early volunteers who were recorded in the Ashreigney Deanery Magazine.
It is greatly to be hoped that further details concerning William Davey will be added in due course by family or friends. Davey is a very common name in the Winkleigh area and it is likely that further contributions to this site might be forthcoming. One further small fact might be of interest: after the war new bells were hung in the church, and William Davey (either the father or son) made a contribution of 1/- which indicates that the family were church-goers.
16 July 2011