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  • Photograph published in the Nottingham Evening Post 29th October 1914. Courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook page Small Town Great War 1914-1918.
Person Details
Church Greasley Nottinghamshire
Percy Smith was born Charles Percy Smith in 1888 at Church Greasley, Nottinghamshire and was the son of Thomas Smith a coal miner and Emily Smith née Maddock of Spring Cottage, Franklin Road, Jacksdale. His father was born in 1856 at Lullington, Derbyshire, he died before 1901. His mother Emily was born in 1852 at Repton, Derbyshire. They were married before 1875 and had the following children, William b1875 Duckmanton, Thomas Alfred b1884 Newhall, George b1886 Duckmanton and Charles Percy b1888 Church Greasley In 1911, Percy (23) had left home and was serving with the Sherwood Foresters at Normanton Barracks, Derby; he had attained the rank of corporal.
A pipe maker
20 Sep 1914
26
3071211 - CWGC Website
9862
Sergeant
2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Sergeant Percy Smith enlisted at Burton-on-Trent on 22nd June 1905 and served with the 2nd Battalion Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment. Percy landed in France on 8th September 1914 and was killed in action less than a fortnight later on 20th September. He is buried in Sissonne British Cemetery, France (grave ref. O.10). ‘The 2nd Foresters had served in India 1882-1898,’ writes John Cotterill, ‘returning home in 1902 via garrison duty in Aden and Malta. They led a peripatetic life in the UK serving on the Isle of Wight, in Aldershot, in various small garrisons in Ireland, in Plymouth and railway strike breaking in Derby in 1911 before arriving at Hillsborough Barracks in Sheffield in 1912. Here they mobilised 4/8/14 as part of 18 Brigade in 6 Division. As with most home based units they were under strength in peacetime so were composed of 40% reservists on mobilisation. Initially only four divisions were sent over the channel with 4th and 6th Divisions held back on coastal defence duties. As the threat of an early German invasion receded these two remaining divisions were deployed with 2nd Foresters, 930 men strong, arrived in St Nazaire on 11 Sept 1914. By this time the retreat from Mons was over and, indeed, on 12 Sept 1914 the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) began its advance from the River Marne to battle on the River Aisne.’ 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (71st Bde, 6th Division) mobilised 4 August 1914 and disembarked at St Nazaire on September 11th. Hough was killed during the battalion’s first Great War action in the Aisne valley which the BEF needed to cross before attempting to take the strategically commanding Chemin des Dames high ground. On September 20th, they were in reserve north of Troyon. As other British units fell back, according to John Cotterill, ‘a request for help reached the 2nd Foresters ... at 1400.’ first by A and C Coys led by Captains Parkinson and Popham, reinforced by ‘B’ and ‘D’’ Coys with most of the Westphalians fleeing before the Foresters’ bayonets.’ The unit war diary (TNA WO95/1616/3/1) records the dramatic action: ‘the enemy were seen to have taken trenches on the right of the British line on the ridge at the head of the Troyon Valley – the most vital point in the line of defence. The battalion moved out to re-take the trenches. A German column was seen to be marching off prisoners ... The advance was met by a very heavy machine gun fire from the front and left flank which caused many casualties, the ground being devoid of cover and very cramped ... a general advance was made with great dash and in spite of heavy losses the trenches were re-taken. The battalion then prepared to hold the trenches ... This was a most important action as the safety of the British right and the bridge over the R. Aisne at Bourg depended on the maintenance of the trenches. All ranks behaved splendidly.’ The war diary estimated 180 2nd Bn casualties in the action of 20th September 1914. 49 men from the unit, including 25 commemorated on this website, were killed that day (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). Thirty-eight of these dead have no known grave and are commemorated on the Le Ferte-sous-Jouarre memorial to the missing and the remaining 11 are divided between cemeteries at Chauny, Sissone and Vendresse. Military Research by David Nunn and John Cotterill
Smith is mentioned in a report in a local newspaper, 'Selston Roll of Honour (Jacksdale Ward),' which mentioned that he was a regular soldier, having enlisted nine years before the outbreak of the war. He went overseas on 13 September 1914 and was killed the same month. Nottingham Evening Post, 29 October 1914: ‘Sherwood’s Losses on the Asine. Nine Officers and 300 Men in One Fight.’ Gave a description of the fighting as recounted by one of those wounded in the action, Private P Phillips, 2nd Battalion, who lived on Fisher Street, Hyson Green. Sergeant Percy Smith, who was killed on 20 October, was mentioned in the report. Notice in the Nottingham Evening Post, 20th September 1915:- 'SMITH. – In loving memory of Sergeant Percy Smith, 2nd Sherwood Foresters, killed on the Aisne, September 20th, 1914. – Aunt, uncle, and cousins, Bulwell.' Above courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook page Small Town Great War 1914-1918.
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Photos

  • Photograph published in the Nottingham Evening Post 29th October 1914. Courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook page Small Town Great War 1914-1918.
    Percy Smith - Photograph published in the Nottingham Evening Post 29th October 1914. Courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook page Small Town Great War 1914-1918.