SX27151 Private Frank DAVIS
Frank DAVIS was born at Victor Harbor on 17 July 1922, the third child of Thomas DAVIS and Beatrice Mary DAVIS (nee PITTS). Frank was educated at the Victor Harbor Primary School.
Frank’s older brother William (SX28596) served in the 2nd AIF, while his youngest brother, Leonard (PA2790), served in the Royal Australian Navy.
On leaving school, Frank worked in the building industry and trained as a fibrous plasterer, or ceiling fixer. On 8 October 1941. Frank enlisted in the Australian Military Forces, he was 18 years; he was certified Medically Class 1 by the Local Medical Officer, Dr Frank DOUGLAS, a veteran of the Boer War. Given the serial number S56417, Frank was posted to the 18th Garrison Battalion. In June 1942 the 18th Garrison Battalion entrained to NSW for defence duties, which included the security of key coastal installations and infrastructure at Dee Why, Bronte and Manly. In mid-July, Frank was admitted to the 18th Field Ambulance suffering from bronchitis where he remained until 20 July, when he returned to his unit. Tired of garrison duties, Frank requested a transfer to a unit bound for overseas duty. He was initially posted to the 1st Australian Machine Gun Training Battalion and on 11 November, Frank enlisted in the 2nd AIF, a move that would allow him to serve overseas. The 1st was based at Cowra, however on 13 March 1943, the Battalion entrained for the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland. On April 11th, Frank was transferred to the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion. The 2/1st had been training and readying itself for jungle warfare. Frank and his fellow soldiers board the ship Duntroon on May 4th at Brisbane for the voyage to New Guinea, berthing at Port Moresby seven days later. After settling in, the men took over defensive positions from the 7th Machine Gun Battalion. On 13 November 1943, Frank was evacuated to the 2/9th Australian General Hospital suffering from malaria; he returned to his unit on 30 November. The 2/1st remained on defensive duties until February 1944 when it returned to Australia and spent 14 months in the Tenterfield area and then in the Atherton tablelands, near Tologa. During this time, the 2/1st became part of the 7th Australian Division.
Frank’s service record show he was charged with various offences five times over the ensuing 14 months, the charges ranging from failing to obey routine orders to being absent without leave.
On 28 May 1945, the Battalion was transported to Morotai Island in preparation for Operation Oboe, the recapture of Borneo and the Netherlands East Indies. The 2/1st was assigned to support the 7th Division’s landing on Balikpapan in July. Now largely being used as a divisional asset, the Battalion provided a company to each of the division’s component brigades – the 18th, 21st and 25th – while one company remained in reserve with the headquarters. Coming ashore aboard several landing craft, the two companies taking part in the initial assault – ‘B’ and ‘D’ – Frank’s company, helped to secure the high ground overlooking the beachhead, while ‘C’ Company remained a floating reserve along with the 25th Brigade. The Battalion’s reserve company, ‘A’ Company, and headquarters element came ashore in a later wave to set up a secure base. During the subsequent advance inland, the Battalion’s main focus was progressing through what the Australians dubbed the “Vasey Highway”, which ran east-west along the island’s southern shore, as the Australians fought to take the oil pipeline and the airfield at Manggar, and the “Milford Highway”, which ran north–south through the centre into the more mountainous hinterland. During the fighting on Borneo, the 2/1st lost 17 men killed and wounded.
Shortly after 13 June 1945, Frank and his older brother Bill, would have learned that their youngest brother Len had died following an accident in Victor Harbor. Len, serving with the RAN, was on leave at the time.
On 22 June 1945, the Battalion embarked aboard LST’s for Balikpapan. Following the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945, a number of the longest serving men returned for Australia for demobilisation. With the Battalion’s numbers shrinking rapidly, Frank was transferred to the 2/16th Infantry Battalion on 20 November 1945. From mid-October 1945 to late January 1946, the 2/16th formed part of the occupation force in the Celebes. It sailed for home for the last time on 2 February 1946 and was disbanded in Brisbane later that month. Frank arrived back in Adelaide on 12 February and was posted to the General Duties Depot until his demobilisation on 16 May 1946. Frank had spent 293 days in New Guinea and 255 days in Borneo, a total of 546 days overseas.
On his return to civilian life, Frank returned to his ceiling fixing business, trading as South Coast Ceilings in partnership with fellow war veteran Colin COOTE. Frank married Ruth HOPPER and there were three children (Christine, Judith and Susanne) of the marriage. Over the ensuing years, The Victor Harbor Times frequently reported Frank’s winning abilities on the golf course as a leading golfer for forty years at the Victor Harbor Golf Club. On 4 December 1978, Frank and fellow local Paddy Patterson, flew in a charter flight over the South Pole.
Frank died on 26 January 1988, age 65; he was buried in the Victor Harbor Cemetery.
Service file of SX27151 Frank DAVIS purchased form the National Archives Of Australia.
Australian War Memorial database.
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, August 2017.