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Phineas Davis
Phineas Davis

Photographs supplied by Kent Watson / Roger Johnson / Bryan Cole

The monument, erected by shipmates, commemorates Phineas Davies who was killed by a premature explosion at the Glenelg Commemoration day in 1885. The memorial was originally erected over the grave in Cheltenham Cemetery and relocated to the HMAS Encounter Memorial garden in 1986. It was moved to its present location in 1995. 

The Naval Association and the Adelaide City Council combined to fund and construct this memorial and rose beds. A crowd of one thousand attended the unveiling on 8 April 1995. The garden and its monuments stand as a reminder of the sacrifices in the Australian Navy.

Davies was the first seaman to serve South Australia to be killed in the colonial navy. It was an accident on 28 December 1885, at Glenelg with a royal salute to mark Proclamation Day, what was then the 49th anniversary of the founding of the colony of South Australia.

The colony’s only naval ship, HMS Protector fired its guns in salute. Davies failed to extinguish the flames in the breech of one of the guns, causing the blank cartridge to explode when it was loaded. The premature explosion caused serious injury to Davies and a fellow seaman. His colleague went to Semaphore hospital, suffering permanent disfigurement and the loss of sight in one eye. Davies, however, didn’t recover consciousness and died from his injuries.

He was buried in Cheltenham Cemetery, where he lay undisturbed for 99 years. Only when the licence for his grave plot expired did his story spark some action.



Address:Sir Edwin Smith Avenue, South Australian Naval Memorial Garden, North Adelaide, 5006
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.91412
Long: 138.600571
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event Start Date:29-December-1885
Actual Event End Date:29-December-1885


Front Inscription

Sacred to the memory of Phineas Philip Davies,
A.B. H.M.C.S. Protector.

Killed by premature explosion of a cartridge when firing salute at Glenelg Commemoration Day
28th December 1885.
Aged 20.

Erected by his shipmates and Naval Reserve


This tombstone marked the site of the grave of Phineas Davies in Cheltenham Cemetery for 100 years and was claimed
by the Royal Australian Navy in December 1986. 

It was installed as the headpiece of the South Australian Naval Memorial Garden at HMAS ENCOUNTER until the Garden was relocated to its present site in April 1995.

Source: MA,ACPH
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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