Wallis Rowland Henry Rochfort-Davies was born August 1895, the youngest of two children to Reverend Charles Rochfort-Davies and his wife, Ethel. Charles was, for some time, the vicar at St Leonard’s Church in Shipham, Somerset, and both Wallis and his older sister Agnes, were both at school until at least their late teens.
Details of Wallis’ military service are scant. He enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry, and was assigned to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, which was based initially in Taunton and then Devonport, near Plymouth.
Sadly, the next information available for Wallis relates to his death. A contemporary local newspaper initially.
It is reported that Sec.-Lieut. Wallis Rowland Henry Rochfort-Davies, 3rd (Reserve) Batt. Somerset LI, died on March 8th. He was the only son of Rev. CH Rochfort-Davies, of Shipham Rectory, Weston-super-Mare. Aged 20, he obtained his commission in Somerset LI in August 1914.Western Morning News: Thursday 16 March 1916
No details of the cause of Wallis’ death were announced, but a post mortem and inquest were held, and the findings came out later that month.
At the Coroner’s Court yesterday afternoon, Mr AE Baker resumed the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Wallis Roland [sic] Henry Rochfort-Davies, aged 20, a Second Lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry. The inquest was opened on the 9th when evidence was given to the effect that deceased was found dead at the Royal Hotel on March 8. The adjournment was rendered necessary in order that the contents of the stomach might be analysed.
Mr Russell, the City Analyst, gave evidence as to the examination of the contents of the stomach. This showed the presence of morphia.
Dr PW White said he was called to the Royal Hotel about 3:30 in the afternoon of March 8. He found the deceased lying in bed, life being extinct. Death had take place probably 8 or 9 hours previously. There were no external marks of violence. The post mortem examination showed some congestion of the internal organs, but nothing to account for death. He had no hesitation in saying that the cause of death was morphia poisoning, probably hypodermically administered.
Charles Greenslade, a plain clothes officer, said he was called to the Royal Hotel on Wednesday 8 March about 4:30pm. Witness made an examination of the room. He found on the dressing table a case containing two small bottles: one was filled with morphia tablets and the other empty. There was also a blue bottle found, which contained a lotion. Needles and a hypodermic syringe were also found…
Reginald Francis Cheese, a friend of the deceased, said he had shown him some drugs on two occasions. He identified a case of drugs produced as having been shown him by the deceased.
The jury returned a verdict of “Death from an overdose of morphia, self-administered”. The expressed sympathy with the father of the deceased and desired to severely censure the witness Cheese.
The Coroner spoke of the increased habit of drug taking among officers, and of the amount of drugs which the case that had been produced contained. Deceased, he said, could not have purchased from any chemist such a quantity of drugs, and it must have got into his hands through the medium of a friend. It was a grossly wicked act that such a large quantity of drugs was ever allowed to get into the hands of this unfortunate young man.Western Daily Press: Friday 31st March 1916
Wallis Rowland Henry Rochfort-Davies was just 20 years old when he died. He was laid to rest in the Milton Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare, in his home county of Somerset.