Davis, Nicholas H. (894th)

Nicholas H. Davis 1Nicholas H. Davis

Biography:  Nicholas Henry Davis, “Nick” was born on March 4, 1908, in St. Louis, Missouri.  He was the son of Lewis and Anna Davis and attended local schools through the twelfth grade.  He worked as a salesman for the Lipton Tea Company for 17 years before the war. Nick married the former Catherine O’Reilly “Kitty” who had been born in Memphis, Tennessee. She was the daughter of Edward O’Reilly and Catherine O’Shea. The new couple made their home in Memphis. 

Service Time:  Nick entered the service on April 2, 1942, at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. He received his basic training at Fort Bragg, NC and was ultimately assigned to the Headquarters Company of the 894th Tank Destroyer Battalion.  They shipped overseas with them on August 6, 1942. He served as a heavy truck driver and spent five months in England training before shipping out and arriving in North Africa.

The unit entered battle on February 20, 1943, at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia and supported the capture of Bizerte. Nick’s brother Pvt. Louis H. Davis was also serving in Africa and he had hoped that the two would be able to meet up. Nick ended up sick and in a hospital.  It was the first time since he left the U.S. that he slept in an actual bed. The 894th landed in Italy in late October, 1943, and were located in the vicinity of Pignataro in the Mignano sector, as of December. They were then transferred to the Anzio beachhead on January 25, 1944, where battalion supported mainly British troops.

While serving in North Africa, Nick recalled the enemy broadcasting American music, which was specifically chosen to make them homesick.  The announcer was a woman who spoke splendid English and she reminded them that they were away from home and how nice it would be to be back there with their girlfriends, eating a hamburger and drinking a Coke. He said that it would take more than that to break the morale of the American boys.

One evening while in the vicinity of El Guitar, German planes opened up on the Command Post with their machine guns. Nick jumped into a foxhole, which was already occupied by a Captain from the unit. Fourteen light bombers came over and dropped 500-pound bombs all around them. One landed only 25 feet from their position which would have easily killed him and the Captain.  Thankfully the bomb turned out to be a dud, which saved his life. 

Article – Nazi Bomb was a Dud

Article – The Commercial Appeal

Nick shipped home on March 6, 1944, arriving in the U.S. on the 18th. He left the service on November 10, 1944, at Fort McPherson, GA, at the rank of Private. He received credit for the unit’s campaigns of Tunisia and Naples/Foggia and was awarded the EAME Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

Honorable Discharge

He returned home to Catherine in Memphis and found a new job at the Seven-Up Bottling Company. The family would have one daughter, Catherine “Kay” born in 1945. He was a member of the Knight’s of Columbus.  

Nick passed away on April 26, 1965, and was buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Memphis, TN.  I want to thank Nick’s daughter Catherine for providing the information and photo for this tribute.