Battalion 457 Protection Company
Regiment Royal Defence Corps
Darcy Philip Assheton Gray was born in London on the 7th January 1873, the fourth son of Col. William Gray and his wife Magdaline. Darcy's father William had been Mayor of Bolton from 1850 to 1852. Darcy was educated at Wellington College and University College, Oxford, going up in 1891. In 1901, Darcy was living with his widowed mother (aged 70), her sister, Annie M Robin (aged 71), and his sister, Frances M Gray (aged 38), at Farley Hill Place, Swallowfield, Berks. The household also included a housekeeper, two Lady's maids, two house maids, a cook, a kitchen maid and a foot man.
In 1903 Darcy married Miss Adah Feilden, the daughter of Sir William and Lady Feilden, of Feniscowles, Lancashire, in the parish Church of Widecombe, near Bath.
At the 1910 Tax Valuation, Darcy is living at Linton, but on the night of the census in 1911, Darcy and Adah, along with Darcy's brother William Edward Cecil Gray, are again at his mother's house at Farley Hill Place, Swallowfield, Berkshire with his widowed mother Magdaline, his aunt Anne Margaret Robin and seven servants. From around 1914, Darcy appears on the electoral roll of Linton, being marked as absent due to Naval or Military Service in 1918.
Darcy's obituary in 1944, tells us that in the early part of his life he was a keen tennis player and later took a great interest in golf and cricket.
Darcy's military service record has survived, and we know that he was commissioned as a Lieutenant on the 26th October 1914. We do not know exactly where, or exactly with which unit he served the first part of the war, but there is an indication it may have been with the Royal Berkshire Regiment, perhaps tying in with his upbringing in that county and his mother's address. On the 13th November 1915, Darcy was admitted to the Military Hospital in Reading suffering from appendicitis and was operated on. His wound healed, but by 14th December 1915, he was still not fit to return to service and it was not until a medical board in Tidmouth, on the 12th January 1916, that he was judged fit for all duties.
There is another gap in his record, until, on the 27th March 1917, Darcy is noted as being on leave for bronchitis contracted due to exposure on duty at night. He was noted as recovering, but still troubled by his appendix scar. and he was deemed to be permanently unfit for general service and he underwent another medical board at Reading War Hospital on the 29th May 1917. At that time Darcy was serving with 11 Protection Company of the Royal Defence Corps (RDC).
The Royal Defence Corps was a corps of the British Army which was formed in March 1916, initially by converting the (Home Service) Garrison battalions of line infantry regiments. Garrison battalions were composed of soldiers either too old or medically unfit for active front-line service. The role of the corps was to provide troops for security and guard duties inside the United Kingdom; guarding important locations such as ports or bridges. It also provided independent companies for guarding prisoner-of-war camps.
On the 7th December 1917, Darcy transferred from 11 Protection company to 14th Battalion, Royal Defence Corps, and then again, on the 22nd March 1918 to another Protection company of the RDC serving, we believe with 457 Company RDC.
Darcy was demobilised on the 9th May 1919, resigning his commission but being granted the right to retain the title of Captain.
After the war, Darcy returned to Yorkshire and lived here until 1925, when he moved to Groombridge in East Sussex.
At some stage Darcy became a J.P. and it was during his time in Sussex that he had an accident worthy of noting in the newspapers:
At the time of the 1939 registration, Darcy was living at Crossways, Corseley Road, Uckfield with his wife and with Mildred A.E. Cooke, and a cook, a parlour maid and a housemaid.
Darcy died on the 13th November 1944 in Tunbridge Wells Nursing Home, aged 71.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 06622
First World War Officer's Service Records WO374/28727 The National Archives.
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