A Bermondsey scout group is searching for the family members of a brave seventeen-year-old who was killed rescuing a friend after a bomb hit Trinity Dockhead Church in 1940, as they prepare for a memorial service in his honour.
During the Second World War, over 50,000 Scouts trained to undertake National War Service jobs, including acting as police messengers, firemen and stretcher bearers, like young Frank James Leopold Davis of Parkers Row.
Frank initially survived the blast on December 8, but one of his friends, a fellow messenger, was trapped under the rubble. Fearless Frank rushed back in and managed to save his comrade, but was himself killed in a further explosion.
His bravery was celebrated the following year when he was awarded the Bronze Cross, the Scout’s version of a VC medal, by president of the County of London Boy Scouts, Sir John Shea.
Following a News history page earlier this year mentioning Frank’s heroism, current Bermondsey scout leader, Bryan Jones, set about organising a memorial service to the brave boy at Nunhead cemetery where he was buried.
A ceremony has been provisionally planned for December 13, the date Frank was buried 75 years ago. In the meantime, Bryan and the 16th Bermondsey Scout Group, based in Galleywall Road, are keen to track down any members of Frank’s family to invite them to the service.
Bryan has set up a website to gather information about Frank and thanks to contributions from local historians like Stephen Humphries, they now have leads on two of Frank’s sisters-Joyce Gilham, who lived at Abbey Gardens in Bermondsey and Ivy West, who lived in Bonsfield Road, Lewisham.
These are not their current addresses, but if anyone knows how to get in touch with Joyce or Ivy, or you have any further information about Frank, please contact Bryan on email@example.com or 07770653229 or visit www.bravescout.com. A video of Frank’s family receiving the Bronze Cross on his behalf can be viewed at dev.southwarknews.co.uk