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Person Details
Walsall Staffordshire
He was the son of William and Anne Smalley and the brother of Edward Arthur, Dennis Noel, Stuart Walter and Milton David Smalley. The family address was 546 Moore Road Mapperley Nottingham. William and his brother Dennis were both chemistry students in 1911. His father was a hatter: Smalleys of Chapel Bar was a familiar landmark in Nottingham for decades and continues to thrive on Derby Road (see photo).
He was on the staff on University College Nottingham at the time of enlistment.
09 Dec 1914
23
584026 - CWGC Website
Second Lieutenant
1st Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
William Smalley was serving near La Gorgue and, although the section was ‘unusually quiet’ according to the battalion war diary he was killed in a communication trench crossing an exposed part of the line and was buried in dug outs close to the battalion headquarters. He is now buried in the Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais.
Article published 14th December 1914 in the Nottingham Evening Post “KILLED IN ACTION. “NOTTINGHAM OFFICER’S DEATH. “Second-Lieutenant W. M. Smalley, news of whose death in action has been received by his parents at 5, Chapel-bar, Nottingham, obtained a commission last May in the Sherwood Foresters. Previous to joining the forces he had been for about three years a member of the O.T.C. He attended the Stanley-road School and afterwards held a position at the University College. From June till September, Second Lieutenant Smalley was in training with the 3rd Battalion of the Sherwoods, leaving to join the 1st Battalion on their arrival from India, and proceeding with them to France. “Beyond the mere notification the death, on December 9th, the family have no information of the circumstances or the locality; but in a letter written at the end of last month the deceased officer speaks of being in one of the hottest parts of the trenches, with the German lines only 50 yards away. “Mr. Smalley has two other sons serving in his Majesty's forces.”Second Lieutenant William Miles Smalley, 1st Battalion Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment, wrote a detailed letter to his parents on 24th November 1914 describing the harsh conditions he experienced in the first winter in the trenches, dealing with snipers and exposure. “November 24th, 1914. “Dear Mother and Dad – We have just come out of the trenches for what is termed three days’ rest. The idea is to spend three days in them and three days behind them. We had a rotten time in them from the intense cold at night; quite a number of men have been severely frost-bitten, and some will lose toes and feet. Rifle fire is fairly all right in the trenches, but shell fire is rotten. You cannot answer it back, but simply have to get into your little hole and chance your luck. “I have in some mysterious way become the chief first aid man in my company. The medical officer has provided me with a medical haversack, which I have taken into the trenches, and there I generally superintend the bandaging, of all the wounded of my own company. Have had some pretty bad cases to attend to so far, nearly all of them shell fire wounded. “If you can some time, just send me along a cake or two; I’ve forgotten what one looks or tastes like. So far we have had a fairly plentiful supply of tobacco, delivered in the trenches, also some newspapers, I got some soap and tobacco per parcel post, actually delivered whilst the Germans were firing heavily. “Snipers are the great trouble. One gets bullets coming in from all sides. They apparently climb trees or live in the cellars of destroyed houses, and simply pop away all through the night, having first laid the rifle by day. “In the German trenches also it seems as though they have tripods or fixed rests for their rifles, and have them sighted all the time on a loophole or a tee just at the back of our trench, or any conspicuous mark along our front. “One gets bullet after bullet coming through the same loophole during the night, and always hitting the same spot in the rear. “Their trenches are only about 130 yards away and so far only one attempt has been made to attack us; and I am pleased to say that my platoon sergeant spotted them starting climbing over, and get ‘em hell. They didn’t try any more just there. “In front of our piece of trench there are quite a number of dead Germans, which it is impossible to bury. Lucky for us that it is cold, or they would smell horribly. “I must say that the Germans are very good. Shell after shell drop close together, and if our machine guns open for a moment you can bet they are shelled almost immediately. “Sorry to say we have lost two officers killed and one wounded so far. Snipers in each case did the business. “During the day the enemy tries hard to be funny, and if our fellows let fly at a loophole near to where earth is being thrown over they signal with a spade that the shot was a miss. Our chaps have taken to answering them in the same way. “In one place in my bit of front as fast as the men build up a loophole the Germans knock it down, and there is apparently great rivalry as to who will eventually win. So far no men have been hit just at that spot, but many have had very narrow escapes/ “Personally, I find the show anything but a picnic, but am very pleased to say that I am quite fit, well, and cheerful. “Am just going to enjoy the luxury of a bath, hot. A few good cigarettes would be very acceptable.” And from a separate letter: “Send me a refill for my lamp week by week, and also occasionally some good cigarettes. French cigarettes are vile, and one issue of cigs. consists of 10 per week – something like 5 a penny. “My company have got the worst piece in the whole line occupied by the Brigade, and my own platoon has the worst part of the line held by my company. This is not just my opinion, but also that of my captain and the colonel. “When I started off I had 57 men in my platoon; now I muster 27. Don’t think that all the 30 are killed or wounded, because most of them are in hospital with frost-bite in their feet. “Still, I have lost more men killed than the rest put together; and, of course, a corresponding number of wounded. I am occupying an advanced kind of post in front of the main line of trenches, and we are only 50 yards, at the most, from the German trenches. The main line of trenches are from 100 to 150 yards apart. “Every loophole of mine has been knocked to bits. During two hours over 1,000 bullets hit six sandbags, so you can tell how good their shooting is when necessary. “The captain has mentioned my name to the colonel for work under fire and for attending to the wounded under similar conditions; and he says he hopes and expects that I shall be mentioned in despatches. Wait and see. Above extract published in the Nottingham Daily Express dated 8th December 1914, courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918.
Remembered on

Photos

  • Photo David Nunn -
  •  Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone marking his grave at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais, France. Courtesy of Murray Biddle
    William Miles Smalley - Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstone marking his grave at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais, France. Courtesy of Murray Biddle
  • Photograph of William Miles Smalley published in the Nottingham Evening Post on 15th April 1914 and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
    Wiliam Miles Smalley - Photograph of William Miles Smalley published in the Nottingham Evening Post on 15th April 1914 and is courtesy of Jim Grundy and his facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918