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smithThe death of 32-year-old Wolverhampton man, Gunner William Smith, occurred at the General Hospital in Birmingham on the 11 November 1917. He died as the result of severe burns and gas poisoning received from a mustard shell on 28 October.

He was born in about 1885, the son of railway carter John Smith. By the 1901 census, they were living at 49 Inkerman Street together with William’s sister, Harriet. The 16-year-old William was already a pupil teacher, and he was to become an assistant master at Walsall Street Schools, as well as becoming a prominent official at St Barnabas’ Church, being a churchwarden, teacher of the Bible class, treasurer of the finance committee and reader of Lessons in church. At some point he got married, although his common name means there are various possibilities so I have been unable to find the name of his widow.

William enlisted with the 504th Battery of the Royal Field Artillery. He is buried at Heath Town (Holy Trinity) Churchyard, and is commemorated on the Heath Park memorial. An article about his death appeared in the Express & Star on 13 November 1917, and he was also featured in the Midland Counties Express on 17 November 1917.