Private 11820 William Smith

Killed in Action on Saturday, 5th August 1916, age unknown.
Commemorated on Pier and Face 7 B of Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

8th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 51st Brigade of 17th Division.

Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 12th August 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/813320/

Genealogical Data

Without further detail, it is not possible to identify William Smith on the census.

Personal Data

After William's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances represented a debit balance of £1/6/8d (1 pound, 6 shillings and 8 pence) - that is William owed the army money; there is no evidence of any attempt to recover this. His War Gratuity was £9/0/0d (9 pounds exactly), this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, Elizabeth, in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted in August 1914.

Action resulting in his death

The 8th Battalion South Staffs, in 17th (Northern) Division, did not attack on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, 1st July but came into action on the next day. They were subsequently involved in fighting in Delville Wood, and the capture of Fricourt which is commemorated in Fricourt by the naming of "Rue du Major Raper" after the senior officer who led the attack. Following the success of capturing Fricourt, the advance continued slowly northwards towards Contalmaison, with numerous attacks on Quadrangle Support, just south of Contalmaison.

On the 10th July, the 8th South Staffs made the eigth attack on Quadrangle Support. This was at first successful, but they were compelled to withdraw after 3 costly hours due to the lack of progress on their flanks. However, during the evening, the Germans were seen to withdraw and Quadrangle Support was occupied by the 10th Sherwood Foresters, with the weakened South Staffs now in support.
The attack had been costly, with 56 South Staffs men being killed on the day.

The Division next came back into the line at beginning of August, the line having been forced northwards to Delville Wood. Here the 17th (Northern) Division continued the attacks started by the South Africans on 15th July, but the wood was not secured until captured by the 14th (Light) Division on 25th August. The attacks on Delville Wood in the first half of August cost the lives of 17 men from the 8th South Staffs, including Private William Smith on 5th August and Private Samuel Langston on 9th August, neither have a known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 16th September 1916
In the Casualty List, the names of those "killed" include Private S.W. Langston, Private G.H. Powell and Private W. Smith; all of Tipton and belonging to the South Staffs Regiment. Also amongst those killed is Private E .Cox of the Highland Light Infantry.