Trooper Martin Davis
Martin Joseph Davis was born 10 November 1920 in North Onslow, Quebec on the north bank of the Ottawa River. Martin left school after Grade 6. At the age of fourteen, he became a clerk for the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company in Ottawa. In July 1940, he volunteered to join the 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards a militia cavalry regiment from Carleton Place, Ontario just across the river from Martin’s home in west Quebec. The unit mobilized for overseas service in February 1941 and was organized as an armoured reconnaissance regiment. After he joined the army Martin supported his mother and father with forty-five dollars a month to help them cope with his father’s disability. Martin’s father passed away before he was dispatched to Sicily in 1943, but he remained in close contact with his mother Lucinda, brothers Leo and Richard, and sisters Sadie, Mary, Beatrice and Rita.
On 23 July, 1st Canadian Division prepared to advance from Leonforte and Assoro eastwards towards Nissoria and Agira. That day, ‘A’ Squadron of the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards was ordered to patrol ahead of the main force on the road to Nissoria and locate the enemy. The role of reconnaissance troops is to seek out information that can impose order on the chaos of battle. Their mission required them to operate far out in front or on the flanks, dangerously isolated from the rest of the division. Dragoon Guards patrols travelled only a few kilometres before the enemy opened fire on them from the eastern heights above Nissoria. The Guards backed up their armoured scout cars to good observation posts west of town. They remained there through the night gathering information about the enemy. The next day the battle for Nissoria Ridge began. Trooper Davis was killed by a burst of friendly machine gun fire on the fringe of the battle sometime during 24 July. His death offers a glimpse into the unique risks taken daily by the divisional reconnaissance regiment.
1. LAC, RG 24, Vol. 25710, Martin Joseph Davis’ service file.
2. H.M. Jackson, The Princess Louise Dragoon Guards: A History, (Ottawa: The Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, 1952): 122-123.
3. LAC, RG 24, Vol. 25710, Martin Joseph Davis’ service file.