Private 42152 William Smith

Smith William 42152 96 437x600

Killed in Action on Thursday, 19th September 1918, age 19.
Buried in Grave V. K. 10. at Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.

8th Bn., East Surrey Regiment. 55th Brigade of 18th Division.
Formerly 98503 Sherwood Foresters Regiment.

Son of Mr and Mrs J. Smith, of 108, Toll End Rd., Ocker Hill, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Wednesbury, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Tipton.

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 St. Mark's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/289233/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
1 The Coppice, Tipton, Staffs.
James Smith (31, General Labourer, born Brownhills), his wife Sarah Jane (28, born Tipton), and their 2 children: Alexander (8, born Darlaston), and William (1, born Wednesbury).

1911 Census
108 Toll End Road, Tipton, Staffs.
James Smith (41, Labourer, born Pensnett), his wife Sarah Jane (38, born Tipton), and their 6 surviving children of 10: Alexander (18, Mill Hand, born Darlaston), William (11, born Wednesbury), James (8, born Ocker Hill), Prudence (7, born Toll End), Joseph (6, born Toll End), and Solomon (4, born Toll End).

Personal Data

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £6/5/11d (6 pounds, 5 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his father, James, in March 1919. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

On the 18th September, the 8th East Surreys were involved in the Battle of Epehy, one of the build-up operations towards the storming of Hindenburg Line on 29th September 1918. The 8th East Surreys took part in the capture of Ronssoy and the advance eastwards towards Lempire. The advance was stemmed for the day by intense fire coming from X, Y, and Z Copses.

During the morning of 19th September, Battalion Headquarters received a direct hit, slightly wounding the Commanding Officer and 3 other HQ personnel. At 6.30pm, "A" and "C" Companies sent out fighting patrols to complete a line about a mile east of Ronnsoy, however the patrols were forced to withdraw due to heavy machine gun fire. At 7.30pm a heavy German barrage was put down over the whole of the Battalion sector but no infantry attack developed, and by about 8.00pm the situation quietened down.

On 18th September the 8th East Surreys had 2 Officers and 21 Other Ranks killed, and on the 19th September a further 6 Other Ranks were killed (source: CWGC). The losses on the 19th included William Smith.

William was originally buried just to the north-east of Lieramont in the Communal Cemetery. The 63 soldiers buried there were exhumed and re-buried in Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension on August 25th 1919. Those 63 soldiers include 10 from the 8th East Surreys, including William, and they are buried side by side in Plot V Row K.

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