Rifleman 7728 Charles Smith

Smith Charles 96 400x600

Died of Wounds on Wednesday, 5th December 1917, age 21.
Buried in Grave IX. C. 2. at Grevillers British Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

7th Bn., Royal Irish Rifles. 108th Brigade of 36th Division.
Formerly 100131 Royal Field Artillery.

Son of Charles Smith, of 33, Neptune St., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. Matthew's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/291078/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
21 High Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Charles Smith (42, Engineering Fitter, born Tipton), his wife Elizabeth (40, born Tipton), and their 8 children: May (15, born Tipton), Florence (13, born Tipton), Selina (11, born Tipton), Elizabeth (9, born Tipton), Caroline (7, born Tipton), Charles (5, born Tipton), James (1, born Tipton), and Elsie (1, born Tipton).

1911 Census
33 Neptune Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Charles Smith (52, Widower, Engine Fitter, born Tipton), and 4 of his 9 surviving children of 11: Lizzie (19, dressmaker, born Tipton), Cassie (17, born Tipton), Charles (15, Engine Fitter, born Tipton), and James (13, School, born Tipton).

Personal Data

It is not known when Charles Smith joined up, but he did not serve abroad before 1916. According to 'Soldiers Died in the Great War', he was initially in the Royal Field Artillery (number 100131) before transferring to the Royal Irish Rifles, this is not recorded on any other document. His number 4/7728 suggests that he was in the 4th (Extra Reserve) Battalion before joining the 7th Battalion. The 7th Battalion was initially in the 16th (Irish) Division, but transferred to 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division in October 1917; it was absorbed into the 2nd Battalion in November 1917, just before the Battle of Cambrai. So although the Commonwealth War Graves Commisiion shows Charles as 7th Battaion, technically he was 2nd Battalion.

After Charles's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £3/8/4d (3 pounds, 8 shillings and 4 pence); this was paid to his father and sole legatee, Charles, in April 1918. A further payment of £2/0/0d (2 pounds exactly) was made to his father in December 1919, this would normally have been his War Gratuity but as the minimum War Gratuity payment was £3/0/0d, this is a little unusual.

Action resulting in his death

The 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, were involved in the Battle of Cambrai on the 23rd November at Moeuvres. They were initially in support to the 12th Royal Irish Rifles, but were soon in action as the 12th Battalion were held up. 'A', 'B' and 'C' companies attacked through the village of Moeuvres. They got three quarters through the village before having to retreat as the units on their flanks had failed to advance, and their flanks were "in the air" - that is unprotected. 'D' company had the high ground to the west of Moeuvres as their objective, but German resistance was too strong. The 2nd Battalion had 1 officer and 11 men killed on the 23rd November, and the War Diary records that 4 officers and 99 men were wounded.

On the next day, 24th November, the 2nd Battalion were relieved and marched about 4 miles to Hermies where they were in the old British Front Line. They were withdrawn on the 26th, and on the 29th moved out of the battle zone towards Arras. This ended their involvement in the Battle of Cambrai until they were recalled into the Reserve Line on 4th/5th December.

It is not possible to say with certainty when Charles Smith was wounded, but apart from the action at Moeuvres on 23rd November, the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles were not in action. It is still possible that he was wounded on any of the intervening days. Charles was moved through the casualty evacuation system to Grevillers, where the 3rd, 29th and 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Stations were situated. Here he died on 5th December and is buried at Grevillers British Cemetery.

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