Francis Davies Polar Archive

Published 10th July 2019

RSS Discovery II leaving London for the South Seas in 1929.

RSS Discovery II leaving London for the South Seas in 1929.

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood have been instructed to offer a number of artefacts from the collection of Francis Edward Charles Davies (1885-1952), a Plymothian, who was the Royal Naval Carpenter and Shipwright aboard the SS Terra Nova and a member of many later Polar Expeditions. Davies' name is commemorated by Davies Bay, situated between Drake Head and Cape Kinsey, which was discovered in February 1911.

Francis Davies was a Plymouth man through and through. He was born and brought up in the Lower Crabtree and Laira Green area of the city and, on leaving school, attained a shipwright's apprenticeship at the Royal Naval Dockyard, Devonport. After working in Devonport and as shipwright on HMS Vanguard he heard mention of Captain Scott's plans for an expedition to the Antarctic and that shipwrights were required. He applied, was accepted and joined the British Antarctic Expedition on 30th May 1910. He immediately signed on at Poplar, London.

An image of penguins from the Polar Archive collection of Francis Davies.

An image of penguins from the Polar Archive collection of Francis Davies.

Following the British Antarctic Expedition, Francis Davies served aboard HMS Blanche 1914-1918 and HMS Exmouth in 1918. In 1919, Davies went to Archangel in Russia and was placed in charge of docking and repairs to all shipping operating in the White Sea and Severnaya Dvina River.

In 1919-20, Davies served in HMS Sandhurst in the Baltic. He took voluntary early retirement from the Royal Navy in 1920. Between the years 1927-34, he served in increasingly senior roles in the Royal Research Ships Discovery II and the William Scoresby, which were engaged in scientific work in the Southern oceans. Also during this period, in August 1932, he passed the Board of Trade Examination for Certificate of Competency as Master (Steamship – Foreign going).

Davies volunteered and served in the Second World War and was granted a Temporary Commission as a Lieutenant RNVR on 18th April 1940 and was appointed to HMS Victory III for Special Service in Norway, where he was commended for his services by the Rear Admiral, Narvik, and the NOIC Harstead. He returned to this country and was transferred to RNR and the Boom Defence Department. Later promoted to Lieutenant Commander RNVR, his final appointment was as Boom Defence Officer, Grimsby.

The Maritime Auction will take place at St Edmund's Court, Exeter on 14th August 2019. All enquiries to Brian Goodison-Blanks.


  • Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood
  • Maritime Auctions
  • Polar Expeditions
  • Francis Edward Charles Davies (1885-1952)

Subscribe to catalogue alerts & news

Select your interests