Grave of IHS 1943 Philip A. Davis
Philip A. Davis IHS 1943

Photograph taken by Matt Skinner IHS 2002 on December 18, 2015.
The grave is at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy

The Walter Davis Family and World War II

Remington Arms Executive

Davis Family Alumni

By Aileen Carney Sweeney
May 2016

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Philip A. Davis

IHS 1943

Recently, Julie Skinner sent me a photograph taken by her son, Matt Skinner IHS 2002. The beautiful photograph was of the grave of Ilion 1943 graduate, Philip A. Davis. Philip died on June 23, 1944. He is buried at the Normandy cemetery in France.

The Davis family once lived in my house on Old Forge Road, which in the 1940s was referred to as "Walnut Grove". Sometimes the past reaches out to us through the houses we occupy.

Under wallpaper I once stripped in my house, I found a handwritten note stating that the bedroom had been papered by Eldon Dibble. Eldon Dibble was also a member of the Class of 1943 and later married Philip's sister, Lydia. That note and Matt's photograph provided the subject matter for this Memorial Day Tribute.

This month, we honor Philip's sacrifice, his family's legacy and all IHS graduates who served and who died during World War II. We also honor all IHS graduates who went to work at the Remington Arms Company that is celebrating its 200th year in 2016. America's oldest gun manufacturer helped keep the world free from tyranny.

Philip A. Davis 1943 Yearbook
Philip A. Davis 1943 Yearbook

The Davis Family

Parents - Walter and Mary Davis

Philip A. Davis was born in 1925; the fourth child of Walter H. and Mary Louise (Neary) Davis.

Philip's parents began their married life together, in 1915, at Seymour, Connecticut. Their first child, John Neary Davis, was born in 1916 in Connecticut. In 1921, the Davis family moved to Ilion when Mr. Davis was appointed Works Engineer for the Remington Arms Company. They resided at 83 S. Fourth Avenue. The younger Davis children were born in Ilion; Winifred (1922), Mary Elizabeth 'Liz' (1923), Philip (1925) and Lydia (1927).

 

Elementary Student Patrols

An Omen of Darker Days Ahead

1937 School Boy Patrols

The Sept 16, 1937 "Ilion Sentinel" reported a conflict between the Ilion School District and the NY State Board of Education. State officials announced that the use of schoolchildren for safety patrol was illegal. The state's decision came after a northern city was said to have used schoolboys as assistants to regular police in traffic control.

Ilion School Board members held a special meeting and decided that until the state ordered otherwise, the boys in Ilion would continue to guard street corners.

West Hill Elementary School
West Hill Elementary School

Election of captains and lieutenants for the three grades schools was held on a Monday afternoon. Philip Davis was named head of the West Hill patrol of five boys. John Gilmartin was named captain of Annunciation school patrol and his lieutenants were Bernard Tracy and John Smallwood. The captain at North Street school was Donald Peterson and his lieutenants were Donald Smith and Walter Brusks. His patrol consisted of 17 boys.

Less than ten years later, these boys would be patrolling the world, during World War II, to secure our freedom and liberty.

 

1930s Ilion High - Davis Family Graduates

IHS Class of 1933 John Neary Davis
IHS Class of 1933 John Neary Davis

John Davis graduated from Ilion High School in 1933. He studied at Annapolis Training School to prepare for entrance to the West Point Military Academy. He attended, with other West Point cadets, the Inaugural Day parade for Franklin Roosevelt, in Washington DC, on January 20, 1937.

 

IHS Class of 1935 Winifred (Davis) Metter
1935 Winifred (Davis) Metter

Winifred Davis was born on October 18, 1917. She graduated from Ilion High School in 1935. She was the oldest of the three Davis sisters. Winifred attended the Utica School of Commerce.

 

Basketball in Ilion Just Before Pearl Harbor

Bart Shelly Hired to Coach

Class of 1943 Penguins Basketball
Left to Right: Dick Strife, Si Garnsey, Howie Morse, Bud Strife, John Gilmartin,
Bill Remmers, Philip 'Fid' Davis and in front, Jim Garnsey

In the fall of 1941, Mr. Barthau Shelly began as the new physical education instructor and basketball coach. The Golden Bombers had only won one game out of 16 games during the previous season. It was believed that the appointment of Mr. Shelly, as coach, would turn things around.

Mr. Shelly was a graduate of LaCross College and he coached at the Vocational School. He had played several seasons of semi-pro basketball in the Midwest. He played forward on the college basketball team and was active in other sports.

Returning lettermen were Joe Bates, Bob Davis, Austin and Norm Hess and Barney Murray. Jayvee members were Jack Carter, Howard Morse, Cy Garnsey, Phil Davis, Bill Remmers, Jerry Singleton, Dick and Bud Strife. Mr. Shelly believed this line-up would help give him a fast team when the season opened on December 5, 1941 against St. Mary Academy of Little Falls. Larry Kelly, also a letterman, could not report for practice because of an injured foot. It was reported that Kelly was expected to be playing before the season was very far along. Fans felt that he would prove to be an aid to Shelly in reviving interest in the basketball in Ilion, again.

 

December 7, 1941

US Enters World War II

December 8, 1941 Utica Daily Press Headline

Life changed for all Americans on that awful day December 7, 1941. The Davis family suffered, toiled and sacrificed like most American families during the following years.

December 10, 1941

U.S. Army Presented Gun by Arms Official at Ceremonies

A formal presentation of gun number 3,000,000 was made on December 10, 1941, at the Ilion Remington Arms Company plant. The gun was presented to Lieut. Cols. Bowlin, executive officer of the Rochester Ordnance Department by Remington Works Manager, George Clifford.

Remington Arms World War II Poster
Remington Arms World War II Poster

The Ilion Sentinel December 11, 1941

Mr. Clifford was high in his praise of the many skilled and unskilled workers; a number of them were engaged in making rifles during the World War I in the Ilion Plant and pledged the support of the gun making facilities of the plan, to the United States during the present conflict. Mr. Clifford asked Walter Davis, military production superintendent to present a number of the veterans and said, "There are many here who have been with us as long, so many, that we cannot name them all but whose contribution has been invaluable. There are also hundreds of newer and younger workers, men who have not even worked in a factory before."

He said that he and other officials of the Rochester Ordnance Department were proud of the product of the Remington Arms Company had turned out during World War I and they were doing excellent work on the present order. He was high in his praise for the workers in the plant and said that he felt sure that they were justly proud of the gun which he had just received.

The ceremony was on a platform on the third floor of the North Main Street Building. The Remington Arms Company Band opened the ceremony and played "America". The band was directed by Raymond Bentz. Ceremonies were closed with the National Anthem performed by the Remington Band.

December 11, 1941

Village of Ilion Prepares for War

Mayor Oliver S. Coleman called his department heads to an executive meeting and laid plans for the protection of Ilion's industries and the health and well-being of its residents.

The head of every village department met with Mayor Coleman and heard plans as made by the Herkimer County Defense Committee for the safeguarding of Ilion and other county villages in the event of any act of sabotage or air attack. In opening the meeting, the mayor appointed Walter Davis, water department; Chief Babcock, police department; Chief Getman, fire department; C. S. Daily, Municipal light commission; Earl J.Trimble, village engineer; Earl P.Watkin, school superintendent; Louis McRorie, American Legion; Llewllyn Wainright of Wm. Hempstead Post, VFW; Willard Rank. Herk. Co. Post. VFW; Joseph Anna, Street Department; Oliver Loomis, Sewer Board; Mrs. Charles Walker, Red Cross chairman; Miss Marion Brill, Women's Defense Council chairman; as members of the local defense committee.

Mr. Davis, president of the Water Board stated that plans had been discussed by that Board, but as yet nothing definite had been done.

Elliott Lester, village trustee and of the Herkimer County Defense Council when questioned by Mayer Coleman suggested that immediate action be taken to safeguard the water and lights of the village as they are vital spots, both to the residents and to its industries. - The Ilion Sentinel December 11, 1941

Mr. Walter H. Davis, Production Superintendent, was placed in charge of the Ilion Remington Arms military operations, in 1941, to direct the re-equipment of the idle buildings for the war effort. In November 1942, he was promoted to the position of Assistant Works Manager. Mr. Davis was a veteran employee of the Ilion plant and began rapid advancement in the company in August 1940 when he was elevated to Production Superintendent. He was named a Director of the Ilion War Fund.

 

Davis Family War-Time Life

Family Moves to Old Forge Road

The Davis family moved from 83 S. Fourth Avenue to a 12-acre farm on Old Forge Road in June of 1942. The new home was known as 'Walnut Grove' because of the large number of black walnut trees. The barn was not heated, so Mr. Davis would fire up the pot belly stove and burn gunstock, pieces of walnut discarded, by the Remington Arms. He raised chickens in the coops on the property. One of Walt's favorite activities was walking with the family springer spaniel over to the area that is now Forge Hill Estates. There, the dog would retrieve golf balls that had been hit from the Doty's golf course.

In the fall of 1942, three Davis siblings began their Senior Year at Ilion High School. Mary Elizabeth (Liz), Philip and Lydia Davis and were all members of the same Class of 1943.

Liz was the oldest of the three close siblings. She was born on June 23, 1923. Liz had a congenital eye disease that resulted in her losing time in school. Philip suffered from scarlet fever and also lost time in school. Lydia was the youngest of the three. Philip was born in June 1925 and Lydia in 1927. All of the Davis children were athletic. The family belonged to the Cedar Lake Country Club. Philip worked as the head caddy at Cedar Lake and won a Varsity letter in golf. In the winter, he set up pins at the Masonic bowling alley.

Victory Gardens

8 Acres on Davis Property on Old Forge Road

In April of 1943, Mr. Charles Lawrence, the Ilion Sentinel Publisher, accepted the job of allotting garden plots on available land to prospective gardeners. He was appointed by the county chairman of Victory Gardens. The list of properties, prepared by a committee, included 8 acres on the Walter Davis property, 3 acres on the Tom Shepherd property, Hunt's Field, owned by the Board of Education, and all vacant lots owned by the Village of Ilion.

The Davis plot, in 1943, had 32 productive gardens out of 40 assigned. The Walter Davis plot of eight acres was made available, again, in 1944. It consisted of forty gardens of approximately 50 feet by 100 feet dimensions.

Victory Garden Poster

 

Class of 1943 Ilion High - Davis Family Graduates

IHS Class of 1943 Lydia (Davis) Dibble-Shaughnessy
IHS Class of 1943 Lydia (Davis) Dibble-Shaughnessy

 

Mary Elizabeth 'Liz' (Davis) Peterson
Mary Elizabeth 'Liz' (Davis) Peterson

 

IHS Class of 1943 Philip A. Davis
IHS Class of 1943 Philip A. Davis

 

Davis Family in the 1940s

Marriage, Work and Service

Winifred Marries

The marriage of Miss Winifred M. Davis to Richard W. Metter, son of Mrs. A. E. Metter and the late A. E. Metter, Wisconsin, took place Saturday April 18, 1943, at 4 pm, in the Ilion Presbyterian church. The Rev. Paul Wagner performed the ceremony. Winifred attended Utica School of Commerce. Her husband, Richard, was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. He was an industrial engineer with the Remington Arms Division of DuPont company. Winifred worked in the Remington Arms during the war as a secretary. Mr. and Mrs. Metter made their home at 10 Frances Street, Herkimer.

Liz (Davis) Peterson wedding
Liz (Davis) and John Peterson

Davis - Peterson Nuptials

Miss Mary Elizabeth Davis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Davis, became the bride of John Edmund Peterson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Enoch Peterson, 563 Garden St., Little Falls on November 9, 1946.

The ceremony was performed in the Church of the Annunciation by the Rev. Gerald Millet, assistant pastor. Miss Theresa Ganglio, New Hartford, was the maid of honor. Miss Helen Paulus and Miss Lydia Davis were bridesmaids. William J. Peterson, brother of the groom, was the best man. Robert Peterson and Eldon Dibble served as ushers. A reception was held at the family home on Old Forge Road for more than 150 guests.

Liz graduated from the Utica School of Commerce. She also worked at the Remington Arms during World War II. She packed guns and was a mail clerk at the plant. At the time of her wedding, she was employed in the Accounting Department of Remington Arms.

Before the war, John Peterson was also a Remington employee as an apprentice tool and die maker. He served 39 months in the Navy. After he was discharged from the Navy, in August 1945, he resumed working for Remington Arms and later worked for General Electric.

The couple made their first home at 314 Second Ave., Frankfort. The Petersons raised their three children, Christine (1949), John (1953) and Theodore (1956), in their home at 44 S. Fourth Avenue Ilion.

Major John Davis Home on Leave

Major John Davis received a serious leg wound while leading his battalion to action in Sicily on August 2, 1943. He spent weeks in Army hospitals in North Africa and finally in Fort Devens, Massachusetts. The wound severed a nerve leading to the foot and Army doctors expected it would take a long time to heal. He was granted a 30-day leave to be with his parents, at their Old Forge Road home. He was awarded the Silver Star Citation and the Purple Heart medal for his actions during battle. He was accompanied from Fort Devens by his wife, the former Alberta Christie. His father-in-law was Colonel A. E. Christie who was a Japanese prisoner of war in Formosa.

Major John Davis Wounded in Battle

Philip Davis Enlisted

Philip wanted to serve his country and enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school.

Lydia Davis
Lydia (Davis) Dibble Shaughnessy

Lydia Davis Attended Keuka College

Lydia Davis attended Keuka College after graduation from high school There she was congress representative for the athletic association, and treasurer of the sophomore class.

Lydia graduated from college and later used her degree as an English teacher at Ilion High School. She taught for over 20 years before she retired in the 1980s.

Lydia Davis Married Eldon Dibble

Eldon William Dibble was also a member of the Class of 1943. On September 8, 1943, Draft Board 409 dispatched a small group of selectees for military service. Eldon, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dibble, 22 Frederick St., was among that group of young men. He served in an anti-aircraft unit for three years.

On Saturday, April 19, 1947, Miss Lydia Catherine Davis wed Eldon Dibble in the Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Paul Wagner officiated at the ceremony. Attendants were Mrs. Winifred (Davis) Metter, Drexel Hill, Pa., sister of the bride and Neil R. Etson, Ilion. Miss Helen 'Kris' Paulus and Mrs. Mary Elizabeth (Davis) Peterson, another sister of the bride, were the bridesmaids. John Peterson of Frankfort and Robert Urtz, Ilion, were ushers. A wedding reception was held in the home of the bride's parents after which the couple left for a wedding trip to New York City.

Eldon Dibble IHS 1943
Eldon Dibble IHS 1943

On their return, they resided at 5 Second Street in Ilion. Lydia was employed as a stenographer in the R and M Division of Remington Arms. Eldon Dibble was an apprentice in the Remington Arms. They had two daughters; Sharon (Dibble) Halpin and A. Leigh (Dibble) Desens. Eldon Dibble passed away from cancer on April 16, 1956.

Five Babies

Ilion - Five Babies
Jimmy Cooper, Sharon Dibble, Steve Garnsey, Susan Strife and Billie Fisher - Photo by Howard A. Moore

Beginning at Christmas 1948 and annually until they were five years old, The Ilion Sentinel published the story of five babies. The children are members of the IHS Class of 1966 and named 'Our Gang'. Sharon (Dibble) Halpin, daughter of Lydia and Eldon Dibble, was one of those photogenic babies.

 

Ilion War Casualties

Memorials and Monuments

VFW Monument - Armistice Day, November 11, 1942

Ground was broken in September 1942 for the erection of a VFW monument to honor Ilion men and women who were serving during the war. The commander of the VFW William Hempstead Post was Harold Austin.

1942 Ilion VFW Monument

The VFW dedicated the monument on Armistice Day, November 11, 1942 with a solemn ceremony. Rev. Paul Wagner built the gold colored eagle, which was placed on the top of the monument, in his home workshop. The obelisk monument was erected in Central Park opposite the Central Fire Station.

The names of Ilion's service men were inscribed on plaques that were placed on each of the four sides of the obelisk. The names of Henry F. (Jack) Remmers, Lt. Gordon H. Sterling and Private Edward J. Bishop were given a place of honor. Remmers was a member of the Sea Bees Naval Construction unit. Remmers, the first Ilionite to perish in World War II, died as a result of facillus infection at Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Lt. Gordon Sterling, a member at the Army Air Corps, was killed at Pearl Harbor and Pvt. Edward J. Bishop, a US Marine, was lost in the battle of the Solomons.

The parents of the men to be honored were invited to the dedication ceremony: Mr. and Mrs. William F. Remmers, Ilion; Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Sterling, West Hartford, Conn. and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Bishop, Clinton.

"T" - Banner Ceremonies

January 1943

On Saturday, January 23, 1943, Ilion became the first town in New York State to receive a "T" Banner, from the Treasury Department of the United States, and the second in the United States earn this honor. Official requirements for a T-flag community required 90 per cent of firms to reach a specific war bond allotment. The required amount was equivalent to 10 per cent of the gross payroll. The firms had to employ 25 or more persons. Mrs. William Seymour, mother of Joseph Seymour, first Ilion boy killed as a result of enemy action, accepted the banner for the village at the ceremonies. Mrs. Seymour represented all service mothers. She was the mother of six sons, three of whom were already in service of their country.

 

Memorial Day 1944

May 25, 1944

The Ilion Sentinel paid tribute to the Ilion soldiers in the May 25th edition. Listed were the soldiers who died in action, died in service, were missing in action or were prisoners of war.

Less than one month later, Philip A. Davis would be listed among those who died on June 23, 1944.

Died In Action

Corp. Clinton Goller, Army Air Force
October 2, 1942 in a plane crash near London
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. George Goller
Pittsfield, Mass.

Pvt. Joseph Seymour, Gunner, U.S. Marines
November 1, 1942, at Guadalcanal
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. William Seymour

Pvt. Frank Kenney, U. S, Army
Missing in action May 18, 1943, North Africa

Lieut. Vincent Dugan, Army Air Force
May 27, 1943 in action over North Africa
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. John Van Vorst, Utica

Victor Lee Rice, Machinists Mate, 1st class, U.S.N.
Missing in action June 30, 1943, in the S. Pacific
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. Carleton Rice

Corp. Nellis Heath, U. S. Army
July 1, 1943, in a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. Carl Grover, Frankfort

Pfc. Forrest Deyle, Army Air Corps
September 24, 1943  in Sicily
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Deyle

Harvey Dhonau, quartermaster 2nd class, U.S.N.R.
October 27, 1943, in the South Pacific
Father - Harvey L. Dhonau 

Sgt. Ralph Baum, Paratrooper, U.S. Marines
October 27, 1943, in the Southwest Pacific
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Baum

1st Lt. William H. Momberger, Eighth Army Air Force
March 9, 1944, in England
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. William Momberger

Pfc. Glen Clark, U. S. Army
February 4, 1944, in Italy
Father - Mr. Earl Clark

Died In Service

Henry Franklin Remmers, Petty Offi. 2nd Class, U.S.N.
August 7,1941 at Dutch Harbor, Alaska
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. William Remmers

Gordon Davies, U.S. Army
September 28, 1942, at Guatemala
Mother -  Mrs. Anna Davies, Utica

John R. Frontz, Purser fan the Merchant Marine
September 22, 1943, in North Africa
Father - Mr. Charles Frantz

Sgt. Matthew Hale Sterling, Medical Div. U.S. Army
September 19, 1943, in the Southwest Pacific
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Sterling

Pfc. Raymond E. Danforth, Trans. Corps, U.S. Army
January 13, 1944, in Italy
Parents - Mr. and Mrs.- Earl Danforth

Pvt. Paul Townsend U.S. Army
May 4, 1944, at Aberdeen, Maryland
Wife - Mrs. Berverda Ruth Townsend
Mother - Mrs. Elizabeth Townsend

Missing In Action

Pvt. Louis Wilcox, U.S. Army
Possibly a prisoner of Germany
Mother - Mrs. Neyna Wilcox

Prisoners Of War

Pvt. Jack Chesebrough, U.S. Army
Philippines
Father - Mr. William Chesebrough

Lieut. Steven Merena, Army Air Force
Germany
Wife - Mrs. Steven Merena

Pvt. Herbert Comes, U.S. Army
Germany
Father - Mr. Herbert Comes

S Sgt. John Fischer, Army Air Force
Philippines
Parents - Mr. and Mrs. William Fischer, Middleville

The Ilion Sentinel also paid tribute to all to the Ilion men and women in service with its May 25th Honor Roll of Service. See the Herkimer County GenWeb site for Ilion Honor Roll World War II War Dead and Ilion Honor Roll World War II for complete updated lists.

 

June 8, 1944 Ilion Sentinel Headline

D Day 1944

June 6, 1944

The Ilion Sentinel June 8, 1944

"Ilionites sought their churches on D-Day and special services were held in nearly all places of worship to the village... At the Church of Annunciation, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed from 1:30 pm until 8 pm, and many children from the Annunciation school came in during those hours to offer prayers. This was done by permission of the Most Rev. Edmund Gibbons, D. D. The regular weekly novena devotion was held at 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm and the congregation joined with the pastor, the Rev. James A. Nolan, in reciting the rosary for the success of the invasion."

"At 11:30 am workers at Plant 1, Remington Rand, had a half hour service on the lawn outside the plant. The Rev. James A. Nolan pastor of the Annunciation Church and the Rev. Paul Wagner, pastor of the Presbyterian church, offered prayers, and Mrs. Lillian Bibbens sang 'Lead Kindly Light.' Harold Day, plant manager, spoke briefly and sacred and patriotic music was played by the band."

"Workers in the Remington Arms Company ceased work at 3 pm and observed two minutes of silence and prayer for our fighting men."

"All machines were stopped. The factory whistle was blown at the beginning and end of the minutes of silence."

 

School Armistice Day Program

November 11, 1948

The Ilion Sentinel November 11, 1948

The retiring minister of the Ilion First Baptist Church, Rev. Fred W. Ainslie, addressed the Ilion High School students for Armistice Day assembly.

Ilion High School

High School Principal, John G. Prindle, led the ceremony which had a three-fold purpose: observation of the 173rd birthday of the USMC, observation of Armistice Day, and finally to pay tribute to the 32 Ilion High School youths who died in action during World War II.

As he read the names of the 32 heroes, Charles Green played "Now the Day is Over" as a piano accompaniment. The 32 gold stars on the service flag, are for:

Jack Remmers, Gordon Davies, Arthur Hosell, Joseph Seymour, Clinton Goller, Vincent Dugan, Forrest Deyle, Nellis Health, William Rice, Hale Sterling, Jack Franz, Robert Long, Ralph Baum, John Nichols, Phillip Davis, Kenneth Bleau, Harry Durkin, William Momberger, Ralph Hardy, Richard Elmer, Clyde Woertendyke, Joseph Hamiln, Ross Cushman, Wilbur Snyder, Walter Snyder, Glenn Clark, Raymond Lubey, Robert Staley, John Cole, Eugene Brest, Douglas Rice and Clinton Geer.

Taps was sounded by Miss Leona Powers, with the echo played by Miss Priscilla Burnham.

Several appropriate hymns, including the "Marine Hymn," "Faith of Our Fathers" and America the Beautiful" were sung with Mr. Green directing and Miss Barbara Merchant at the piano.

 

 

Lt. Col. John N. Davis Honored

Korean War - April 9, 1953

The Ilion Sentinel July 28, 1953

Lt. Col. John N. Davis - Medals

Lt. Col. John N. Davis received the Bronze Star in Africa and the Oak Leaf Cluster in Italy. After he was wounded during World War II, he returned to America and attended Ohio State University, where he received his master's degree in military psychology. He taught at West Point and graduated from the West Point command and staff school at Fort Leavenworth. In August of 1952, he left for Korea. Lt. Col. Davis received a second Oak Leaf Cluster for logistical work in Tageu, Korea in April 1953.

1959 Movie - Pork Chop Hill1959 Movie - Pork Chop Hill

The July 28, 1953 Ilion Sentinel reported that Lt. Col. John N. Davis received his third Oak Leaf Cluster. He was congratulated by Maj. Gen. Arthur G. Trudeau. Trudeau was commander of the 7th Infantry Division in Korea. Col. Davis was also appointed acting chief of staff of the 7th Division.

Lt. Col. Davis was a Battalion commander in the battle of Pork Chop Hill during the Korean War. He lost most of his men fighting the Chinese. The battle was featured in a 1959 movie, Pork Chop Hill, starring Gregory Peck. The actor Barry Atwater portrayed Lt. Col. John Davis.

 

Davis Family Epitaphs

Walter H. Davis Retired July 1953

Walter Davis Honored by 200 Arms Executives

Walter 'Walt' Davis, an executive of the Ilion plant of the Remington Arms Company for 38 years, was honored during a testimonial dinner to mark his retirement. He came to Ilion in 1921 as Works Engineer for the Remington Arms Company. During the next 22 years he filled several important positions. He became production superintendent in 1940 and assistant works manager in 1942. In 1950 he was appointed Special Assistant to the Works Manager and remained in that capacity until his retirement.

The celebratory dinner was given by 180 fellow workers of the company on July 1, 1953. Toastmaster, Douglas Miller, assistant works manager, presented Mr. Davis with an expensive set of luggage. Mr. Davis career with the company was given special recognition by the speakers at the dinner. He was also lauded for his service on various boards and commissions in the Village of Ilion.

Walter H. Davis - Remington Arms

Walter H. Davis - Father

Walter H. Davis, age 70, of Old Forge Road in Ilion, died March 18, 1960, in the Ilion Hospital, after a long illness. He was born in the township of Spring, Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, on December 6, 1889. His father was merchant and banker, John H. Davis, of 345 Bridge Street, Spring City Pa. His mother was Lydia C. Davis. He graduated from Lehigh University, in 1912, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Shortly after graduation from Lehigh, he joined the Remington Arms Company at Bridgeport, Conn. and began a career with the company that would span 38 years. In 1915, in Seymour, Connecticut, he married Mary Louise Neary.

The Lehigh Alumni Bulletin 1932-1933 contained, in his own words, his brief biography as of 1932. It chronicled his early work at The Remington Arms Company.

"Since graduating from Lehigh in 1912 I have led a rather quiet and peaceful life, So to speak. I have 'worked for only two companies, the history follows:

June 15, 1912 to Sept. 15, 1915, Beacon Falls Rubber Shoe Co., Beacon Falls, Conn. Mfg. rubber foot wear of all kinds. Capacity, Assistant Master Mechanic.

Sept. 15, 1915, to Jan. 20, 1920, Remington Arms Co., Remington Cutlery Co., Bridgeport, Conn. Mfg. ammunition and cutlery. Capacity, Assistant Works Engineer.

Sept. 20, 1920, to date, Remington Arms Co., Remington Cash Register Co., Ilion, N. Y. Mfg. fire arms and cash registers. Capacity, Plant Engineer.

As Plant Engineer at Ilion my work consists of power plant, millwright work, electrical, plumbing and steam fitting, carpenter, tinsmith and welding, painting, janitor service, yard work and freight handling, hydraulic canal and fire protection and safety supervisor.

During this period I have reconstructed the power plant, installing automatic stokers, etc., reconstructed the power feed lines and metering system and installed a chlorinating system in the sanitary water supply, all of which has effected an annual saving to this company of $95,000. These have been the outstanding achievements on this job.

Yes, I'm married and have five children ranging from 6 to 16 years.

Mr. Walter Davis was a registered licensed, professional engineer by the State of New York. He served on many village boards during his lifetime in Ilion. He was appointed to the first Zoning Commission in 1930. The Zoning Commission recommended the boundaries of the districts under which regulations were to be enforced. He served as President of the Ilion Water Commission and was a director of the Manufacturers National Bank of Ilion. He served as a member of the Municipal Committee that built our 2 firehouses in 1929 and also on the Herkimer County Building Committee that built the county office building. Mr. Davis was active in community affairs, was a member of the Masonic Lodge, Red Cross, Conversation Club, Community Club, Cedar Lake Country Club and was a director of the Herkimer County Boy Scouts. He was president of the Fish and Game Club for five years. He also served as chairman of the Ilion Hospital Citizens Committee. In 1952, he was the Remington Arms executive in charge of the company's participation in the Village of Ilion Centennial. Mr. Davis retired from the Remington Arms on June 29, 1953.

He was survived by his wife, Mary, one son, Col. John Davis, Germany, and three daughters; Mrs. Lydia Dibble and Mrs. John Peterson, both of Ilion and Mrs. Richard Metter, Beaver Falls. He was predeceased by his son, Philip, killed in the Normandy invasion in 1944. Funeral services were held from the Applegate Funeral Home with the Rev. Mitchell, Ilion Presbyterian Church officiating. Burial was in Armory Hill Cemetery, Ilion.

Mary Louise (Neary) Davis - Mother

Mary Louise Davis, age 91, of 255 S. Fourth Ave., widow of Walter Davis, died Thursday, July 12, 1984. Mary was born on December 4, 1899, in Stamford, Conn., the daughter of John and Mary Elizabeth (Donahue) Neary. She graduated from Norwalk High School. Mrs. Davis also served with various organizations. She founded the Ilion Garden Club. She was a member of the Ilion Hospital Guild and was a girl-scout advisor. She was a member of the Annunciation Church Parish and the Catholic Daughters of America. She was a President of the Women's Associate Board of the Ilion Hospital, the Travelers Club of Ilion and the PTA. Survivors included two daughters, Mrs. D.C. (Lydia) Shaughnessy of Herkimer, Mrs. Richard (Winifred) Metter of Vero Beach, FL and a foster daughter, Miss. Helen (Kris) Paulus of Cincinnati, OH; a son, Col. John Davis of Stuart, FL; seven grandchildren; ten great-grandchildren and one niece. Mrs. Davis was predeceased by her son, Private Philip Davis, who was killed in action in WW II and her daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Peterson, who died in 1971.

Mary Elizabeth 'Liz' (Davis) Peterson

Mary Elizabeth 'Liz' (Davis) Peterson, age 48, of 44 S. Fourth Ave., died in 1971 at the Herkimer Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. She was born on June 17, 1923 in Ilion. She graduated from Ilion High School in 1943 and from the Utica School of Commerce. She was married to John E. Peterson, Sr. in Ilion on November 9, 1946. At one time, Mrs. Peterson was employed as a mail clerk at Remington Arms Company in Ilion. She was a life-long resident of Ilion, a member of the Church of the Annunciation and the Catholic Daughters of America. Besides her husband, she left one daughter, Miss Christine E. Peterson, at home; two sons, John E. Jr., at the Great Lakes Naval Base, Illinois, and Theodore J., at home; two sisters, Mrs. Richard (Winifred) Metter, Beaver Falls, Pa., and Mrs. Lydia Dibble, Herkimer; one brother, Col. John N. Davis, of Hyannis, L.I., and several nieces and nephews. Funeral services were held from the Applegate Funeral Home and from the Church of the Annunciation where a requiem high Mass was offered. Interment was in Armory Hill Cemetery. Liz's husband, John Peterson, died in 1988 at the age of 69.

Liz's son, John Peterson IHS 1971, continued his Peterson family's tradition of serving in the military. John joined the Navy and served from 1971 to 1975 at Sub Base Pearl Harbor as an EN2. Son, Theodore Peterson, IHS 1973, served in the Secret Service. Ted Peterson founded Downtown Decorations Inc. as a small holiday decor business run out of his home basement. His son, Garrett Peterson, joined the business in 2003. In 2012, the company created a holiday decor package for Destiny USA in Syracuse; the sixth largest mall in the United States. Today, the company provides the decor for campuses, downtowns and malls all over the United States! Christine Peterson lives in Syracuse.

Colonel John Neary Davis

Colonel John Neary Davis, age 70, Village Place, Longwood, Fl. died December 11, 1986. He was a 1933 graduate of Ilion High School. He was the first Ilion cadet, admitted to West Point, in the preceding 25-year span. The appointment was from the 33rd NY congressional district. He was retired from the Army, was a retired business professor and was a member of Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Longwood. He was a member of the Academy of Management, the Institute of Management Science and the Association of the U.S. Army. Survivors included his wife, Alberta; his son, Naval Commander John Phillip and Nancy Davis, Virginia Beach, Va.; a daughter, Patricia D. Pickett, Avondale, Pa.; his sisters, Lydia (Davis) Dibble-Shaughnessy, Ilion, NY, and Winifred (Davis) Metter, Vero Beach; nieces, nephews and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by his father, mother and sister, Mary Elizabeth (Davis) Peterson. The son of Colonel Davis, John Philip Davis (who was named after his father and his Uncle Philip who died in France in 1944) retired as a Rear Admiral after serving 35 years with the U.S. Navy.

Lydia (Davis) Dibble-Shaughnessy

Mrs. Lydia Davis (Dibble) Shaughnessy, age 72, passed away on July 16, 1998, at Faxton Hospital, Utica. Lydia retired, as an Ilion English teacher, in the 1980s, after teaching for approximately 20 years. Her first husband, Eldon Dibble, passed away April 16, 1956. She later married Dr. Daniel C. Shaughnessy, of Herkimer, NY, on November 4, 1977. Dr. Shaughnessy died on May 15, 1993. Mrs. Shaughnessy was survived by her two daughters; Sharon (Dibble) Halpin IHS 1966 and A. Leigh (Dibble) Desens IHS 1968 and their families. She was also survived by Dr. Shaughnessy's children and grandchildren.

Winifred (Davis) Metter

Winifred (Davis) Metter age 97, of Vero Beach, FL, passed away on August 28, 2015. Mrs. Metter is a 1935 graduate of Ilion High School and attended Utica School of Commerce. She married Richard Metter April 18, 1943, in Ilion. Winifred also worked in the Remington Arms, as a secretary, during World War II. She and her husband, Richard Metter, never had children of their own.

Private Philip A. Davis

During the World War II, Philip Davis sent letters to a friend in Ilion. In the letters, the first letter of the first word of each paragraph was code to tell her his current location, such as St. Mere Eglise. The friend, in turn, would tell Mr. Davis (Philip's father) where his son was located.

Ilion Class of 1943 graduate, Private Philip A. Davis, died while in service to his country, on June 23, 1944 in France. He is buried in the Normandy Cemetery, Row 19, Plot E, Grave 37.

 

 

 

Memorial Day 2016

Philip Davis Grave Location
Photograph Courtesy of Nancy Davis
Philip Davis Grave
Photograph Courtesy of Nancy Davis
Former Davis Home - Old Forge Road, Ilion NY
The Walter Davis Family Home - Old Forge Road, Ilion NY
Photograph by Sean Sweeney IHS 2011 - May 2016

If a house could talk, it would tell you the story of the Remington Arms employees that lived there, in particular, the story of the Walter Davis Ilion family.

Mrs. Mary Davis sold the family home, at Old Forge Road, to Dr. Donald Davidson on June 22, 1961. Remington Plant managers, Jim Ayers and Harvey Boyle, later owned and lived in the house.

This Memorial Day, take a moment to reflect on Ilion graduates who were employed by the Remington Arms and those graduates who proudly served their country, in the Armed Services, during times of wars. Some, like Philip A. Davis gave the ultimate sacrifice.

We Salute them all!

 

References Cited

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May 30, 2016


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