Tom David

Born – Cardiff, 6th August 1891

Died – Yser Canal, Ypres, Belgium, 27th July 1917

Tom David was one of thousands to be killed during the fighting at Passchendaele in August 1917 and, whereas his elder brother Alex was decorated for bravery and returned home, Tom gave his life for King
and Country during the fighting to the north of Ypres.

Born in Cardiff, Tom was one of eight children for George and Annie David with his father being a well-to-do solicitor who hailed from Pwllheli in Caernarvonshire. Tom followed a similar educational path to his two elder brothers, being schooled first at Arnold College in Knutsford in Cheshire before studying law at Keble College, Oxford. Whilst at Oxford Tom won his college colours for cricket and rugby, besides representing Keble at hockey and taking part in the various trials for the full university teams. He was unsuccessful in these but continued to play with distinction for Keble, before starting his solicitor’s training in East Grinstead in Sussex, where he continued to play cricket and hockey,

In 1913 Tom returned to Cardiff and joined his father George’s practice. Whilst back home, he also played cricket and rugby for the town club, frequently appearing alongside his elder brother. Indeed, the pair appeared together in July 1913 in the all-amateur match between Glamorgan and
Carmarthenshire at Llanelli, with Tom taking a couple of catches off Alex’s bowling. Tom himself took a wicket with his medium-pace deliveries, and from a position in the lower middle-order, he scored 1 and 24 in the contest which the home side comfortably won by 53 runs.

In 1914 he successfully opened the batting on several occasions for Cardiff when regular incumbent Norman Riches was absent on county duty, and as a result of his success against some of the best bowlers in club cricket, he harboured ambitions of further call-ups by Glamorgan. But the outbreak of
the Great War swiftly ended these thoughts and in November 1914 he secured a commission in the 5th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment. After undergoing his initially training in Pontypridd, Tom departed for France where by July 1917 he had risen to the rank of captain. For the next few months, he was involved in the fighting on and around the series of ridges to the south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres.

On 27th August, 1917 he was killed after a German aircraft – decked in British colours – had tricked it’s way over Allied lines adjacent to the Yser Canal and had flown low over the trenches before dropping a light close to where Tom and his brigade were situated. Having alerted the German artillery to the precise location of the Welsh soldiers, the German artillery then unleashed a fusillade of shells, one of which hit Tom and killed him instantly. His body was subsequently laid to rest in the Bard Cottage
Cemetery at Ypres. News of Tom’s passing arrived at the family’s home in Cardiff shortly after his father had suffered a heart attack. For several days, medics decided that news of Tom’s death should not be given to George for fear of worsening his situation. His condition slightly improved, allowing him to be told the grievous news, but tragically within a month or so, George had suffered a second stroke from which he tragically never recovered.