Lieutenant Claude Edward Smart

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Killed in Action on Tuesday, 24th July 1917, age 24.
Buried in Grave I. N. 10. at Bailleul Road East Cemetery, St. Laurent-Blangy, Pas De Calais, France.

14th Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. Pioneer Battalion of 63rd (Royal Naval) Division.
Formerly Private 2898 7th Worcestershire Regiment.

Son of George Harry and Emily Smart, of Normanhurst, Burnt Tree, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Dudley, Enlisted: Unknown, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 4th March 1916.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Dudley Grammar School, Dudley Clock Tower, and St. John's Dudley memorials.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/312935/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
206 Cheshire Avenue, Smethwick, Staffs.
George H. Smart (34, Brass & Iron Founder - employer, born Dudley) and Emily (35, born Swan Village, Staffs) with their 2 children: Claude E. (7, born Dudley) and Norman N. (1, born Dudley).

1911 Census
103 Birmingham Road, Dudley, Worcs.
George Harry Smart (44, Brass and Iron Founder, born Dudley), his wife Emily (42, born Swan Village, Staffs), and their 2 surviving children of 3: Claude Edward (17, Assisting in Business, born Dudley), and Dorothea Mildred (age 7, born Dudley).

Personal Data

On September 18th 1914 Claude enlisted in Dudley as Private 2898 in the 2/7th Worcestershire Regiment. He was 21 years 2 months old, 6 feet 2 inches tall with a 39¾-inch chest. He had grey eyes, dark hair, a fair complexion and was Church of England. He was employed as an Assistant Manager at Thomas Smart and Sons, a family company in which his father was a partner.

He stated that he had served for 3 years with the Worcester Yeomanry, but was not serving at the time of his enlistment. On September 18th, Claude signed to waive the Territorial Force Home Service obligation, and would serve abroad if required.

On May 3rd 1915 while undergoing training at Maldon, Essex, Claude was discharged from the 2/7th Battalion and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He subsequently served for some time as Transport Officer in the 5th Battalion who were Garrison troops in Plymouth. Claude landed in France on March 2nd 1916, when he was attached to the 10th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment in 19th (Western) Division. Claude would have seen significant action during the Battle of the Somme, including the capture of La Boisselle, and the Battles of High Wood, Pozieres Ridge and the Ancre.

On November 20th 1916, Claude was admitted to No, 7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, with a Gun Shot Wound to his chest (right). This was likely to have been received on November 18th during an attack on Grandcourt, when the 10th Worcesters were to act as ‘moppers-up’ to the main assault. The battalion had 3 Officers and 22 Other Ranks killed. This included Tipton man Joseph Partridge; his page contains more detail of this attack.

This was a ‘Blighty’ wound, and Claude was admitted to Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital at Millbank, London on November 22nd 1916.

On November 23rd 1916, Claude’s father received and already out of date telegram:
“Regret to inform you that 2/Lt C.E. Smart, Worcester Regiment, was admitted to Stationary Hospital, Boulogne November 20th with gunshot wound – chest. Condition satisfactory. Will report any further news”.

Claude was discharged from hospital on January 2nd 1917 when he would have had some leave before returning to France where he joined the 14th Battalion, Worcesters. The 14th were the Pioneer battalion for the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division, their main tasks were with pick and shovel rather than rifle.

Claude was serving as a Lieutenant with ‘D’ Company of the 14th Battalion when he was killed on July 24th 1917. He died without leaving a will, and left an estate valued £147 6s 1d (147 pounds, 6 shillings and 11 pence). His address was listed as 103 Birmingham Road, Dudley.

As well as being commemorated on the St. John's (Dudley) Memorial, in the same church Claude has a stained glass window in his memory.

"To the Glory of God and in loving memory of CLAUDE EDWARD SMART, Lieut., Worcestershire Regt., killed in action at Gavrelle, France, 24th July 1917 aged 24, this window is dedicated by his Parents and Sister. 'Damsel, I say unto thee, arise'."

Action resulting in his death

The 14th Worcesters were known as the Severn Valley Pioneers, and were the Divisional Pioneers in the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division. In April 1917 during the Arras Offensive, the Division had fought at the Second Battle of the Scarpe in which the Division captured Gavrelle, and a week later at the Battle of Arleux.

Three months later the Division was still in the Arras Sector, and it was here that 2nd Lt. Smart was killed by a shell whilst leading a working party on 24th July 1917. The War Diary records that as well as Claude being killed, 1 Other Rank as killed and 9 Other Ranks were wounded. The Other Ranks soldier was Private Aubrey Basil Hall of Victoria Road, Aston. Claude and Private Hall were buried side-by-side at Bailleul Road Cemetery East, St. Laurent-Blagny, a mile north-east of Arras.

Claude's father received a telegram from the Secretary of the War Office, dated 27th July 1917, informing him of his son's death on 24th July.

Smart Claude Telegram

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald August 4th 1917
Very sincere sympathy will be felt for his parents, and a very large circle of friends will be deeply grieved at the death of Second-Lieutenant Claude Smart, who has fallen in action. He was with a working party near the front line when a shell dropped behind him and he was killed instantaneously.
Second-Lieutenant Claude E. Smart was attached to the Worcestershire Regiment, and was the only son of Mr & Mrs G.H. Smart, of 'Normanhurst', Burnt Tree. He was a grandson of the late Councillor Thomas Smart of Kate's Hill. He was educated at the Dudley Grammar School, and afterwards entered the well-known firm of which his father is a partner, namely, Messrs Thomas Smart and Sons Ltd., Watson's Green Works. He had attained the age of 24 years a few days previous to his death. He was a young man of fine physique, standing 6 foot 4 inches in height, with a disposition which makes him very popular with a host of friends.
He originally joined the Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars, but retired previous to hostilities breaking out. A few weeks after the outbreak of war, however, he volunteered for the army, giving the lead to young single men in the employ of the firm he was connected with. He joined as a private in Captain Hastings Grainger's company of the 3/7th Worcesters. He gained a commission in May 1915, and after passing the necessary course of instruction, was attached to the 5th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. He acted as a transport officer for some time, and he was drafted out to France in March 1916. After serving there for six or seven months, he was wounded whilst with the 10th Worcesters, and lay in a London hospital for a period. On his complete recovery, he was again sent to France, and there gave his life for King and Country on July 24th.
Lieutenant Smart's untimely death came as a great shock to his parents and relations, and also to his many friends.
Reference was made to his death on Sunday morning at St Michael's Church, Tividale, and at St John's Church, Kates Hill. At the close of the morning service at the latter church, "O, rest in the Lord" was played on the organ by Mrs Duesbury as a respect to his memory.
The following letter has been received by Lieutenant Smart's father from Captain T.R. Blake:- " Dear Mr Smart, It is with the very deepest regret that I am writing to break to you the news that your son, Second Lieutenant Claude E. Smart, in my Company was killed in action last night. There are only two small drops of consolation that I can possibly give, one is that he died doing his duty as a noble British gentleman, and the other that he was killed instantaneously and cannot have suffered at all.
He was out with a working party near the front line when this happened, and an unfortunate shell landed just behind him and killed him outright. We brought down his body, and he was buried this afternoon in a proper military cemetery with a Church of England priest to read the service. His personal effects will be forwarded in due course by the army authorities. I was with him only half an hour before, and I can, with all the Company, truly sympathise with you in your great loss".
Roll of Honour.
SMART.- On July 24th, killed in action, Claude Edward Smart, 2nd Lieutenant, Worcester Regiment, only son of Mr and Mrs G.H Smart, "Normanhurst", Burnt Tree.
Mr and Mrs G.H. Smart and Mildred desire to thank all friends for their kindness during their recent sorrow.