March ’20 Hero of the month

Hero of the month… Royal Marine Damian Davies 1981 – 2008

Once a year in November the whole world comes together to remember our fallen heroes, however at Scotty’s Little Soldiers we know that for families who have lost someone who served in the Armed Forces, Remembrance Day is every day.

Every one of our members has lost a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, and we believe their lives and sacrifice should always be remembered. In our hero of the month posts we celebrate the lives of our member’s fallen heroes every month of the year. 

This month we honour Royal Marine Damian Davies, a married father to a young son, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan.

 

Royal Marine Damian Davies (27) was a member of the Commando Logistic Regiment, based in Chivenor, North Devon. He initially joined the Royal Navy in 2000 and was transferred to the Royal Marines in 2001. On completion of his training in 2002, Damian joined the Driver’s branch and commenced his first draft at the Commando Logistic Regiment as a member of the Landing Force Support Party. He subsequently qualified as a Staff Car Driver serving at Fleet Headquarters before moving to the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines.

Damian returned to the Commando Logistic Regiment at the beginning of 2008 in preparation to deploy to Afghanistan. It was on 12th December 2008, during his first tour of Afghanistan, that he was killed following a suicide bomb attack. Damian was one of three Royal Marines that lost their lives that day. Damian left behind his wife Joanne and son Matthew who was just 18 months old at the time.

He was described by his comrades as easy-going and very hardworking, a great friend and a trusted colleague. His Commanding Officer, Colonel A T W Maynard gave the following tribute after his death: “The Commando Spirit resonates in every recollection of Marine Damian Davies. His courage was resolute as his tragic death in the front line is testament to. His determination and unselfishness are underscored by his reputation for being the first to volunteer for any tasks, and his cheerfulness is epitomised by the fact that nobody can remember him without a ready smile. At work his style was understated and selfless, and he had a reputation for working hard. Nevertheless, although he was a loyal and dedicated Royal Marine, his focus in life was his family – his wife Joanne and son Matthew”.

12 years on and Jo can remember vividly the day she received the knock at the door. Damian was due to return from Afghanistan and the family were planning to move back home. At the time, Jo was staying with her parents so had family around her when they told her the news. Jo remembers she knew immediately what they were there to tell her and she just couldn’t believe it, he was supposed to be coming home.

With Matthew being so young, it was hard to explain to him that his daddy wasn’t coming back. She remembers explaining to him that daddy had gone to heaven. Afterwards, Jo remembers Matthew being really cuddly. He may not have understood what was happening, but he knew his mummy was sad.

Known as ‘grandad’ to many of his friends, Jo has some loving memories of Damian, both as a husband and as a father. One of her fondest memories, that she frequently shares with Matthew, is his attempted escape over the garden fence after a daytime drinking session with his friends. She also recalls how he loved sitting with his slippers on watching The Bill, hence the nickname grandad!

Cheeky, naughty and stubborn were just a few words used to describe Damian. However, he also had a serious side. Jo said: “Being a Royal Marine and a father meant the world to Damian, he was extremely proud to be a Royal Marine but even more proud to become Daddy to Matthew.”

In joining the Royal Marines, Damian was keen to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Captain Warren Davies.

Because Matthew didn’t get chance to know his dad, it’s important to Jo that they talk about him and help keep his memory alive. She frequently tells Matthew, now 12 years old, stories about what Damian would think in situations and what he used to get up to. Matthew also hears stories about his dad from old friends, like Andrew Grayson, who was out in Afghanistan at the same time as Damian and has been a constant support to the family since Damian’s death.

Jo said: “Matthew looks up to Andrew like an uncle and he can share stories about him that I never even knew myself, which is lovely for Matthew to hear.”

After Damian’s death, Jo also wrote down all her memories in a memory book so that she could one day share them with Matthew. She kept everything from photos to newspaper cuttings of Damian to help provide her son with a better picture of who his dad was and the hero he became.

Jo met Damian in 2003 after an unexpected night out with his sister. Jo worked at the Shropshire Star with Damian’s sister and had organised a girly night out, which Damian decided to crash at the last minute. As Jo describes it, they were inseparable for the entire night and the rest is history.

Jo remembers the night they met like it was yesterday. She said: “Damian came to pick me up as I was going out with his sister. I remember catching his beautiful blue eyes in the mirror and I think I fell in love at that exact moment!”

The couple married two years later and had Matthew two years after that.

Matthew joined Scotty’s Little Soldiers in 2011 and since then has been on a number Scotty’s breaks including Matthew’s favourite in the Devon Cliffs Haven resort. Matthew has also received a Scotty’s grant to help pay for swimming lessons and a residential trip with school. He has made so many friends through Scotty’s and loves being part of the community, particularly going to the Christmas parties.

Matthew has also received vouchers on poignant days of the year, including Remembrance Day and the anniversary of his dad’s death, plus Christmas gifts.

And it’s not just Matthew who has benefited from the Scotty’s network, Jo has also made friends with other mums in a similar position, knowing she can call on them if she needs them.

She said: “Scotty’s mean the world to us, Matthew’s face when he gets something from Scotty’s is hard to explain!”.

Tribute Page:  https://damian-davies.muchloved.com

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