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  • Photo was originally published in the Worksop Guardian,
courtesy of Robert Illett
Person Details
Worksop, Notts
William Henry Smith of Creswell married Maria Stokes from Worksop in 1893. By 1901, William was working as a bricklayer and with 3 children, Mabel born 1896, William Henry born 1898 and Percy 1900, were resident at 43 Sandy Lane, Worksop. 10 years passed and William senior was now the foreman brick layer, they had moved a few doors up in Sandy Lane and had 3 more children, Lilian 1902, Cedric 1908 and Zilpah Helen born 1910. William Henry junior, at the young age of 13, was recorded as an apprentice brick layer. It was only 3 years later when he managed to enlist in the army at Worksop.
01 Jul 1916
18
813377 - CWGC Website
19966
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
He was killed on the first day of the Somme. Battalions attacking Ovillers on 1st July 1916 had to cross 'Mash Valley' one of the widest expanses of No Man's Land (750 yards) along the entire Somme front. Today, looking from Ovillers Cemetery (German front line) towards distant houses (British front line) across open fields offering little cover, the magnitude of their task is still evident. 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters' War Diary recorded: 'Casualties along the whole line were very heavy and a general attempt was made to crawl forward under intense machine gun and shrapnel fire, any available cover being made use of.... Lt Colonel Watson, walking diagonally across the front collecting men as he went gave fresh impetus to the advance by his personal example... A third attempt, led by Captain C E Hudson*, to reach the German trenches by the sunken road on the right flank was made but... was brought to a standstill by heavy frontal and flank fire as they came over the brow of the hill in the last 80 yards. The casualties sustained by the battalion during the day amounted to 21 officers and 508 men. The strength of the battalion on entering the trenches on 26th June was 27 officers and 710 men.' 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters War Diary TNA WO95/21871(3). 125 men from 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were killed during the attack on Ovillers (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). *John Cotterill adds 'The man who brought the 11th Foresters out of action on 1 July and, one of the 6 unwounded officers, was Capt Edward Hudson who would go on to get a VC as CO of 11th Foresters on Asiago Plateau in Italy in 1918'. 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment suffered 264 fatalities during the same advance. Concerns of their CO Lieutenant Colonel Edward Thomas Falkiner Sandys DSO, a brave and well respected officer, that his battalion would be badly mauled crossing such an expanse of open ground with uncut wire an added hazard, did not impress his superiors. Sandys was wounded during the attack and evacuated to the UK. Depressed at the fate of so many men who had trusted him, Sandys shot himself in a London hotel room and died a few days later. 8th Division's Official History records a total of 5,121 casualties on 1st July 1916. Military Research by David Nunn
Lance Corpl. William Henry Smith Worksop Guardian 3 November 1916 In our issue for August 11th we reproduced a photograph of Lance-Corpl. William Henry Smith, 11th Sherwood Foresters, son of Mr. and Mrs. W.H.Smith, 426, Gateford Road, Worksop, who had been reported “missing” since the heavy fighting on July 1st. It was hoped that the publication of his photograph would lead to some information being forthcoming to hand, hopes grew fainter and now have been altogether extinguished by the official intimation from the War Office that Lance, Corpl, Smith was killed in action on July 1st. The letter was accompanied by the message of sympathy from the King and Queen. Lance Corpl. Smith was one of the youngest of Worksop’s soldier sons. A tall fine lad, he looked older than his years, and thus had no difficulty in enlisting, which he did in September, 1914, when just 16 and a half years old. He went to France early on and was invalided home with frost-bite. Recovering, he returned to the Front in February last, and since that time to the day when he fell fighting bravely he was hard at it, seeing more of the war than do most men many years his senior. He was thus only 18 years and five months when he died. He was a brave lad, of undoubted courage, and a fine example to the young manhood of Britain. He was one of the Hero’s of whom Worksop should be proud. His parents, whose eldest boy he was, have the sympathy of the people in their bereavement Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France. Research by Colin Dannatt
Remembered on

Photos

  • Photo was originally published in the Worksop Guardian,
courtesy of Robert Illett
    William Henry Smith - Photo was originally published in the Worksop Guardian, courtesy of Robert Illett
  • Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.
    Photo David Nunn - Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.