His great-grandfather was one of the “Old Eighteen”

My name is Stan Davis, and my great-grandfather was one of the “Old Eighteen.” I’ve been in contact recently with Dr. Rodney K. Watterson concerning a book he has authored called 32 in ’44: Building the Portsmouth Submarine Fleet in World War II. Published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press, Rod’s

book is just out this month and available through Amazon and from the USNI web site http://www.usni.org/store/books/history/32-44, at least (if not yet in military bookstores).

One of the major characters described in the story is my paternal grandfather, CAPT Henry F. D. Davis U.S. Navy, an engineering duty officer who was the Portsmouth (NH) Naval Shipyard’s Industrial Manager from 1940 through 1944.

The book’s title comes from the fact that in his final year there, Portsmouth LAUNCHED 32 submarines, a record of high quality production that has never been equaled. Indeed, this shipyard accounted for a third of all U.S. submarines built during WWII. As it happens, CAPT Davis was, in fact, the oldest child of “Old Eighteen” Cadet Number 8 Frederick Davis.

One great engineer begets another!

Even from the professional standpoint, prospective military officers should find this work interesting. It says a lot about how procurement of exceptionally high quality military hardware was executed during the world’s greatest conflict to date. The book points out that innovation and attention to detail, a hallmark of CAPT Davis’ career, was key to exceptionally high performance in a massive government -managed operation, which out-performed private shipyards.

I believe that many of the traits, which made my grandfather the outstanding engineer and manager that he was, were passed on in his formative years from his father, and that these include values, interests and skills acquired in training at the RMC.

Just thought you might be interested!

Cheers, Stan Davis

7631 S. Galileo Lane, Tucson, Arizona


[email protected]

Below and attached is another artifact of interest I happen to have handy, an image of my great grandfather Frederick Davis C.E. surveying routes for the CPR in wilderness out ahead of mainline construction in the 1880s. I understand that he was principally involved in bridge/trestle siting, design and construction.

Having recently retired COMPLETELY from several careers, I am just now finding time to delve into family papers and other paraphernalia, follow up on items of interest etc. I hope one day to visit Kingston and tour the fabled RMC, stories of which I heard (albit second hand) from my grandfather. At another house back in Virginia, I have a sword reputed to be that of Frederick Davis. Perhaps this is something I should return to the RMC at some point.

More later. Cheers, Stan

P.S. Incidently, I am, myself, a retired naval officer (among other things) and, like your commandant, a graduate of the Naval War College in Newport.


  • Don Gates, 8035

    March 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Stan – Thanks for sharing such wonderful stories about F Davis RMC#8 of the Old Eighteen. There was another Davis in the Class, WM Davis #4. All RMC cadets still memorize names of the Old Eighteen in their first-year recruit phase — probably able to recall them in the correct order, even years later. Annual top financial donors to the RMC Foundation are called The New Eighteen in tribute to your great-grandfather and the rest of his historic class. RMC’s Rowing Club named each of their expensive Eight’s oars after one of the Old Eighteen (before being phased out after one member won Olympic Single’s Gold for Canada not so long ago).

    #8057 Ross MacKenzie is Curator of the RMC Museum in Fort Frederick. Bill Oliver at Panet House, RMCC Ex-Cadet Club can put you in touch with him about Frederick Davis’ Sword and any other RMC treasures from that era.

  • Kevin Davis

    February 13, 2013 at 2:57 am

    I found your article very interesting! I, myself, am a graduate of the Royal Military College (Class of 2008) and, being a Davis, have always been intrigued about the history of each of the two Davis’ belonging to the historic “Old Eighteen.” Although I became very versed in rhyming off their names during my time at the College, I have never come across much in the way of personal history. I do not suspect any relation, although my father’s name is Frederick Davis. Any history you may find I would greatly enjoy hearing about. Kindest regards,

    K. Davis, cadet 23997.

  • Stan Davis

    February 18, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Kevin, I too have wondered about the OTHER Davis among the Old Eighteen, but unfortunately have no answers. Perhaps I should just repeat something my grandfather used to say in jest . . . a way of dealing with the plethora of Davis encounters we of this huge clan tend to experience. H.F.D. Davis often said in such situations, “Well . . . it’s the sixth most common name in the English speaking world. (Pause) But it’s only number seven on the prison rolls!” Hope this helps! Cheers, S

  • Stan Davis

    February 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Oopps! Further to mine above. In an amazing “senior moment” I actually misquoted the family joke! Concerning the name Davis, my grandfather used to say, “It’s the sixth most common name in the English speaking world, but it’s only number ELEVEN on the prison rolls.” Why the special knowledge of law enforcement stats? I think this amusing observation (handed down for generations) may actually stem from Cadet #8’s father, Robert Davis, who is said to have been a sheriff of Haldimand County.