Philip James Davies was born of strong Welsh descent in Ballarat, Victoria on July 16th, 1895. Growing up in the gold rush town, he attended Humffray Street State School, and went along to Sunday School at the Ballarat Town & City Mission.
Davies was working in the gold mines when war broke out in 1914, but it wasn’t until 1916 that Philip signed up to serve in the 39th Battalion. He was 20 years old. His enlistment papers suggest he’d been previously rejected “for His Majesty’s Services” because of his teeth, but this time he was allowed in.
Before leaving Australian shores for England on the steam ship Ascanius at Geelong, the British & Foreign Bible Society gave a pocket New Testament to each soldier, including now Lance Corporal Davies.
The 39th Battalion arrived at the trenches of the Western Front for the first time on the 9th of December, just in time for the onset of the terrible winter of 1916-17.