SMITH, HERBERT JOHN

BERKS CEMETERY EXTENSION

Rank: Private
Service No: 1614
Date of Death: 09/05/1915
Age: 19
Regiment/Service: London Regiment 13th Kensington Bn.
Panel Reference Panel 10.
Memorial PLOEGSTEERT MEMORIAL

Additional Information:

Born at Gillingham Kent, son of Herbert Stephen (First Class Admiralty Writer) and Maud Mary Smith. 1901: With his family at 29 Belmont Road Gillingham – his father working at Chatham Dockyard. 1911: An Export Clerk to an East India Merchant, living with his family at “Oakamoor” (later 61) Empress Avenue Woodford Green.

As a boy he was a member of the Parish Church Choir, and had enlisted in the 13 London Regiment before the war. He was among the original Territorials who volunteered to serve in France, 13 London being one of the first TF units to go abroad, leaving England on 03-11-14. After further training they took over waterlogged trenches at the Front in 02-15, by which time 96 casualties had been incurred through sniper, shell and mortar fire. 158 casualties followed in their first action at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle on 10th/-03-15.

The Battalion participated in the Battle of Aubers Ridge on 09-05, fierce fighting which resulted in 436 casualties and all but decimated the unit. For the number of lives lost, this battle has been described as an unmitigated disaster. No ground was taken, no tactical advantage was gained and both intelligence and equipment were deficient. Herbert Smith was one of those killed in action that day.

The Corps Commander subsequently declared “By your splendid attack and dogged endurance you and your fallen comrades won imperishable glory for the 13th London Battalion”.

It is believed he was known to Richard Chardin of Empress Avenue, as both attended the Derby Road Methodist Church. Chardin was Killed in Action on 19-05-15.

Memorial: Roll of Honour Derby Road Methodist Church.
Separate Folder: NO.
Principal Sources: Ancestry.
Qualification: Borough Resident. Name read at St Mary’s Church Sunday Service, December 1917.