James Gresham Davis was born in July 1928 in Essex where his father, Robert, was a Maritime Superintendent of the LNER North Sea Train and Ferries in Harwich. Shipping was in his blood.
Jim was sent to Prep school in Brighton, at Ovingdean but the school was evacuated to Devon when an enemy bomb near miss damaged the building early in the war. He was a keen sportsman and became Head Boy by the time he left.
Bradfield in 1942 was a place for harsh living with fuel and food shortages, on top of discipline regimes that were quite severe. Many of the teaching staff had returned from retirement to replace the younger teachers who had been called up to the armed forces.
Jim arrived in September and went to G House (on the hill) which at that time was under the redoubtable Housemastership of John Moulsdale. Jim quickly became a considerable force in House, school and team events, eventually becoming Captain of football, squash and fives as well as playing cricket for the first team. He was a successful actor in the Greek Theatre plays directed by Cecil Bellamy (Army Housemaster) receiving commendable plaudits from The Times drama critics for his performances as Polonius in Hamlet and Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night.
Leaving Bradfield in 1946 he was committed to two years in the Navy which he faced with equanimity if not enthusiasm, leaving thankfully and wiser, but ‘little better informed’ in early 1949. He then had a ten-month gap before going to Cambridge University.
On a visit to Bradfield the Headmaster, John Hills, advised Jim to spend this time teaching at Prep Schools. He took this advice and enjoyed the experience and was even offered the chance to buy out one of the schools when he had gained his degree. He declined the offer.
Jim spent three years at Clare College, Cambridge, coming down with an Honours degree in Law and Economics and a list of friends whom he knew for the rest of his or their lives.
Before leaving Cambridge Jim had applied for an interview with P&O (shipping) and was accepted as a “learner”, a euphemism for Management Trainee. This started a significant twenty year career with P&O followed by a further 16 years at Kleinwort Benson as their Director of Shipping.
Jim was appointed CBE in 1988 and was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Dannebrog in 1996 (a Danish honour dating from 1226) and he was Chairman and President of many National and International shipping and transport orientated conferences and forums. He was particularly proud of his involvement in the creation of the International Maritime Industries Forum (IMIF) of which he was Chairman for several years.
Alongside his busy commercial life ‘the centre of his world’ was his wife Hanny and their three daughters, Mariske, Katrina and Charlotte. Not having any sons, he and Hanny have had to wait until their oldest grandson was of a suitable age to go to Bradfield. Jack, son of Mariske and Mike Hindley, is now coming to the end of his first year at the College and is about to enter F House. Jim was delighted.
Jim will be greatly missed by his whole family and his many friends throughout the world.
Bryan Whalley (E 44–48)