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Words of Sympathy

Words of Sympathy

There is a sad entry in the Express & Star on 3 April 1916. When his Honour, the Judge Howard Smith, took his seat at Wolverhampton Crown Court one morning, the proceedings were introduced by a Mr W. A. Foster, who wished to “offer to your Honour our respectful sympathy in the great loss you have just sustained by the death upon the field of honour of your gallant son, Lieutenant Gerald Howard Smith.” In the article, his colonel describes him as “one of the most fearless and efficient officers in the brigade.”

A Popular Officer

A Popular Officer

More detail can be found in the Wolverhampton Chronicle on 5 April 1916. As well as being the son of Judge Howard Smith, Lieutenant Smith was also the grandson of the late Sir William Smith, D.C.L., L.L.D.. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College Cambridge, and had been a keen cricket player, being president of the Cambridge University Cricket Club and captain of the Wolverhampton Cricket Club. He was clearly following the family profession, being a junior partner in the Wolverhampton solicitors firm of Underhill, Thorneycroft and Smith.

He joined up with the South Staffordshire Regiment, taking part in the charge on the Hohenzollern Redoubt and being awarded the Military Cross. His demise came after he was wounded for the third time. Apparently while the stretcher bearers were removing him, he whistled “It’s a long way to Tipperary”, so he was clearly still in high spirits!

His entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission confirms that he was killed on 29 March 1916, the son of Judge Howard Smith and Mrs. M. B. Howard Smith, of 11, Alexandra Mansions, Chelsea, London. He was in the 6th Battalion of the South Staffordshire Regiment, and is commemorated at Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, in France. The site states that he was a native of Wolverhampton, but the only likely birth I was able to find of about the right age was a Gerald Howard Smith registered in Kensington in March 1880.

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