THE FIRST WORLD WAR
Shortly after the outbreak
of the First World War Davies was involved in the
campaign to occupy German South West Africa.
Knowing his interests, his fellow soldiers often brought him
birds they had shot. He was always carrying
brushes, paints and birds, and sometimes bits of birds.
The stamps illustrated are from the "Birds of Venda" issue of 1991. These are the Cape Batis (21c), the Natal Robin (35c), the Collared Sunbird (40c) and the Yellow-streaked Bulbul (50c). These birds are all relatively common birds throughout Southern Africa and were probably painted during his time in the Eastern Cape.
THE TRAGIC END
In 1918 an argument occurred
between Finch-Davies and Roberts, the former complaining
about being "somewhat hurt by Mr. Roberts's treatment"
and suggesting that he might switch allegiance to the
In was shortly after this, towards the end of 1919, that Mr. Roberts noticed that plates of bird sketches were missing from the museum's collection. Finch-Davies was the only person with access to the plates without museum staff being present and was thus the prime suspect.
The police were informed of the losses, set a trap and Finch-Davies was arrested. A closer check found 230 plates to be missing from 90 journals and books. The museum authorities decided not to prosecute. Finch-Davies promised to return the plates, or substitutes for them. As security he deposited his entire collection of bird paintings - 29 volumes - with the museum until he could make good its losses.
Finch-Davies was transferred to Cape Town. However on 18 May 1920 it was discovered that more than 130 plates had been found to be missing from the South African Museum in Cape Town's bird journals and books. Finch-Davies was found dead shortly after the discovery, presumably having committed suicide.