Remembering the men from the Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster
who gave their lives in the First World War
On the centenary of their death, we remember
Henry SMITH (of Teynham)
b. 27th September 1890;
d. 26th September 1916. Aged 25 years.
29th (Vancouver) Battalion
British Columbian Regiment
Canadian Infantry Expeditionary Force
Remembered with Honour
Vimy Memorial, Part VII (S)
Killed in Action
Henry was born on 27th September 1890 in Teynham, Kent. Henry was the youngest child of Henry Smith, a timber merchant, and Ruth (also known as Kate). Henry was the youngest of six children - the eldest (George W) and four sisters (Kate, Edith, Ellen and Eva F) - all born in Teynham. At the time that he travelled to Canada, his mother (known as both Kate and Ruth) and father lived at No.4 Station Road, Teynham. His father's generation were mostly local to Molash, his mother was born in Canterbury.
When he died his mother had also died, leading to his next of kin being Mrs Charles L.Pike, Darenake House, Dorchester, Dorset.
From his Attestation Documents we know Henry was a robust 5 feet 10¼ inches tall, with a chest measurement of 38 inches (expansion of 4 inches). Fresh complexion with hazel eyes and dark brown hair.
Henry described himself as unmarried and a "painter", in U.S. Border Crossing documents. Later, his attestation records show his employment as "chauffeur". He was "examined" on 17th April 1911 before boarding the Royal Mail Steamer (RMS) "Virginian" that left Liverpool on 28th April 1911 and arrived on 12th September, 1911, en route to Canada.
The "Teynham Pals": Henry was one of a group of young men who travelled early in the 1900's to Canada where they hoped to find a new life. About 10 "Pals" returned home in Canadian Expeditionary Forces (CEF) to fight alongside other local lads. Henry was one of four "Pals" who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Henry attested on 3rd November 1915 to join the 29th (Vancouver) Infantry Battalion. This Battalion was first authorised on 7th November 1914 and embarked for Liverpool aboard the SS Missanabieon 20th May 1915. From there, the Battalion was stationed and training at Dibgate, Lydd, Brabourne Lees, Sellinge, Stone Hill, Otterpool and then Shornecliff from where it marched to Folkestone on 17th September 1915 bound for Boulogne. From Boulogne, the Battalion moved to St. Sylvestre, Aldershot Camp, and finally into action at Tea Farm, billeting at Locre. A tragic accident led to one of the first casualties in the Battalion on 13th October - "75320 Private Clarke W.D. "A" Company - shot in head while trying to open the breach of his rifle with his foot. Rifle having jammed." It was not enough to be shot at; faulty or poorly maintained equipment could be costly too.
It is not clear exactly when Henry joined his Battalion at the Front. However, allowing for at least six months of travel and training, he probably arrived in France around May/June 1916.
War Diary for 29th (Vancouver) Canadian Battalion - 2nd Canadian Division
The war diary sets the scene for Henry Smith's entry into the Battle of the Somme and of his death.
The Battalion entered into billets and training on 21st August at MERCKEGHEM before moving via WATTEN, GANSPETT, ESTEMONT, and OUESTMONT to take up "inadequate" billeting on 28th August, requiring a requisition for more tents.
1st September: Fine morning. Instructed Companies in attack. Returned to billets about 5pm.
2nd September: Showery. Practised attack at Training Area
3rd September: Heavy rain in afternoon. Practised Battalion attack at Training Area. Capt. H.W. Sangster re-joined Battalion,
4th September: Heavy rain. Sent billeting party ahead to Candas. Battalion marched to St. Omer at 6.30pm and entrained for Candas [90 kilometres South]. Left St. Omer at 11.03pm
5th September: La Vicogne. Arrived at Candas at 8am and marched to La Vicogne at noon. In billets.
6th September: Vadencourt. Fine Day. Left La Vicogne at 8am and arrived at Vadencourt at 12.30pm and bivouacked.
7th September: Brickfields at Camp. Left Vadencourt at 9am and marched to Brickfields, near Albert. Fine Day. Sent Officers up to reconnoitre front line. North East of Pozieres. Captain P.M. Ferris, attached, transferred to 7th Battalion as Paymaster.
8th September: Brickfields. Fine day. Battalion parade at 9.30am to practise signalling with Aeroplanes. Sent parties of Officers and N.C.O.s to reconnoitre front line. Working party of 150 men out laying cable near La Boiselle.
9th September: Brickfields. Fine day. Again practised inter-communication with Aeroplanes. More Officers and N.C.O.s went to reconnoitre front line.
10th September: Brickfields. Fine day. Church parade at 9.30am from 11am to 1pm all ranks from British Columbia voted on prohibition, woman suffrage and for the Provincial Legislature. Battalion left during the afternoon, in small parties to take over the front line trenches from Ref. Sheet 57 D. R.35.c.65 to R.34.b.44. Only 23 Officers taken into the trenches, the balance being left at the wagon lines with a proportion of NCOs and specialists. We took over from the 1st Battalion at 8.30pm. On the way in Lt.Col. J.S. Tait, Officer Commanding was buried by a shell and was dug out and sent to Hospital, Major J.M. Ross assumed command of the Battalion. Battalion Headquarters were at Pozieres.
TRENCHES IN FRONT OF POZIERES
(an additional Official Report on the period between September 7th and 16th in these trenches has also been transcribed following on from this Diary (below) for completeness of this story)
11th September: Fine day. Very heavy shelling during the night. “D” and “C” Companies were in the front line, “b” Company in supports, “A” Company in reserve. Heavy shelling during the day. Two small bombing attacks during the early morning driven back. Casualties to noon September 11th, hilled 5 O.R. wounded 12 O.R. The 5th Battalion on our left and 19th Battalion on our right.
Received orders to dig an assembly trench 100 yards in front of and paralleling the front line. “A” and “B” Companies were detailed for this work and succeeded in digging half the trench, although the enemy thought that the party was making an attack and put up a barrage. Major K.C.C. Taylor DSO was killed whilst superintending this work. GOC 6th Brigade sent message of appreciation of the work accomplished. Insistent shelling of Battalion Headquarters all night.
12th September: Fine day. Usual shelling. Enemy plane brought down at 9am near our support trenches. Casualties, killed 1 Officer, 9 O.R. wounded 34 O.R. Made relief in afternoon, “A” Company now on left, “B” on right, “C” in supports, “D” in reserve. “C” and “D” Companies furnish working parties and complete assembly trench. Lieut. H.T. Minchin, wounded. Major H.G. Starr, wounded, shell shock. Lieut. A.A. Archer and Lieut. J.A. Norris joined the Battalion and remained at the wagon lines.
13th September: Fairly quiet. GOC 2nd Division inspected front line. 10.30am received advance orders for the attack to take place on September 15th. Casualties, killed 2 O.R. wounded 14 O.R. Gassed 1 O.R. Heavy enemy artillery bombardment. Had Machine Gun blown up. Had working parties out completing preparations for the attack. Sent out Battalion Bombers to hold new assembly trench. Established visual signalling by lamp with Brigade Headquarters. Lieut. R.M. Custance, Lieut. A.A. Archer and Lieut. W.A. Dougan reported in from the wagon lines and went on duty in front line. Lieut. S.G. McSpadden ill and sent out of trenches.
14th September: Enemy kept up intense barrage around Battalion Headquarters all night. Lieut. R.M. Custance wounded, 10am. Great aeroplane activity on our part. All preparations being made for attack on the 15th, forward dumps etc being prepared. Special order of the day received from G.H.Q. Casualties, killed 2 OR, wounded 20 OR. A ;dud; shell came through Battalion Headquarters dugout; no damage. Relieved about 6.30pm in front line by two platoons each of 27th and 28th Battalions. Battalion moved back to reserve trenches near Brigade Headquarters at Sheet 57d S.E. X.10.B.96.
15th September: Fine day. Attack commenced at 6.20am. 29th Battalion was in Brigade reserve. 7.25am sent “C” and “D” companies up to furnish carrying parties to 27th and 28th Battalions who were attacking between Courcelette and Pozieres Bapaume Road. “B” company detailed to furnish carrying parties from Brigade dump forward. “A” Company furnished stretcher bearer parties. Machine Guns at Battalion Headquarters kept on hand as reserve. Lieut. T,H, Mackinlay wounded. Casualties, killed 3 OR wounded 39 OR.
16th September: Fine day. Attack successful and Battalions reorganised. Party sent out to collect equipment. Sent stretcher bearer parties to Courcelette. Draft 60 OR received. Move back to Brickfields during the afternoon and bivouacked.
17th September: Brickfields. Still at Brickfields. Received letter of thanks from GOC 2nd Division. Received draft 34 OR. Moved at 8.30 am to billets at WARLOY.
18th September: Warloy. Heavy rain all day. Moved at 9am to near Val de Maison, and went under canvass. Cold and disagreeable. Corps Commander called to congratulate Battalion on its behaviour during the recent attack.
19th September: Near Val de Maison. Raining. Moved at 8.30am to Bonneville; good billets. Received another Colt Gun. Received draft 27 OR. Completed reorganisation. Revised list of casualties Sept. 10th to Sept 16th, killed 1 Officer, 27 OR, wounded 6 officers and 128 OR, missing 5 OR.
20th September: Bonneville. Billets at Bonneville very comfortable. Have muster parade. Everyone in good spirits.
21st September: Bonneville. Billets at Bonneville. Men taken in busses to baths. Recent reinforcements paraded for inspection by GOC 6th Brigade.
22nd September: Left Bonneville at 2.30pm. Marched to tents near Val de Maison. Fine day. Men at baths.
23rd September: Val de Maison. Fine day. Moved at 8am to billets at Harponville.
24th September: Left Harponville at 7am. Marched by Albert to Sausage Valley. Arrived about 3pm. Bivouacked. Received orders for the attack of September 26th. Men very tired, as march was long and day hot.
25th September: Sausage Valley. Fine Day. Sent Officers up to Courcelette to look over ground, but they could not get very near on account of sniping and shelling. Had several conferences of Officers and drew up Operation Orders. Battalion marched to trenches East of Courcelette at 8pm. Relieved 26th Battalion in front line about 1.20am September 26th.
26th September: At 1.50am “A” and “D” Companies had occupied Quarry in front of Courcelette; “C” and “B” Companies had dug in along Gun Pit Road beside Cemetery. Battalion Headquarters were at M.19.d.2.6. to M.19.d.7.2. Objective was gained and advanced post established about 100 yards in front of the line. The 28th on our right flank were to attack in conjunction with tank, but received orders not to go forward as tank was put out of action.
The 31st Battalion on our left flank were held up by wire and machine gun fire and did not gain their objective until next day. The Battalion held on although exposed to galling sniping and machine gun fire. During the evening there were two counter-attacks, which were repulsed.
27th September: Enemy still sniping new front line. The 31st had now gained their objective and relieved pressure on our left. Men very tired but cheerful. At 11.50am situation was normal and bearer parties were able to take wounded from front line. Got in touch with aeroplane at 4.05pm and indicated our position, which was exactly where we should be. 6pm reported to Brigade that enemy had retired from our front and had gone back apparently about 1,000 yards. About 8.30pm received a notice that a Battalion of the 4th Brigade was coming through to relieve the 28th Battalion and occupy M.19.d.10.8 to M.21.a.5.3. The 28th on our right and the 27th on our left reported sending out patrols.
28th September: Fine day. 19th Battalion moved towards Le Sar at 7am. It was reported that the 23rd Division now held Destremont Farm. The 26th are seizing Hill at [redacted] and R.18.a. 10am 21st Battalion moved past and we go to Quarry at Courcelette. 2.40pm received order to get ready to be relieved. GOC 2nd Division sent congratulatory message on success of our operation. 6.45pm relief order received. 21st Battalion to relieve us; Battalion to move to dug-outs in X.16.a. Relief completed at 8.30pm and Battalion moved to Sausage Valley.
|Officers in the Lists||Major C.T. Partington, Capt. H.W. Sangster, Lieut. M.P. Lane, Lieut. J.A. Harper, Lieut. G. Everitt.||Lieut. H. Platt, Lieut. C.H. Hepworth, Lieut. Gwillim, Lieut. F.W. Melsom, Lieut. J.A. Norris, Capt. W.F.H. Harris, Chaplain Capt. C.E. King, Transport Officer.||Lieut. W.A. Dougan.|
|Received Drafts||Sept. 26th: Lieut. G. Gordon and 5 Other Ranks; Sept.27th: 23 Other Ranks; Hon. Capt. W.F.H. Harris, attached as Chaplain.|
29th September: Sausage Valley. Held muster parade and reorganizing.
30th September: Sausage Valley. Still at Sausage Valley. Fine day, reorganisation completed; commenced courses in Lewis Gun etc. Received congratulatory message from GOC 6th Brigade on recent action.
On September 7th 1916 the 29th Battalion with the rest of the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade, arrived at the Brickfields at ALBERT from St. ELOI, where they had been holding the line for the previous four months, and bivouacked under canvas shelters, to take their place in the newly won British position East of POZIERES.
The Battalion was commanded by Lt.Col. J.S. Tait, who succeeded Lt.Col. H.S. Tobin, the Battalion’s original C.O., whose splendid work at HOOGE will long be remembered by men who came through this third battle YPRES. To him the Battalion owes its name of “TOBIN’S TIGERS”. Major J.M. ROSS was second in command, and Lieut. L.A. Wilmot, Adjutant.
When the battle of the “SOMME” commenced the enemy front line was slightly over two thousand yards from ALBERT, but when the 6th Brigade arrived in the battle-zone the British had advanced their front line to over four miles from that city. On September 8th 1916 the first train in two years arrived at ALBERT and unloaded supplies at the station.
On the afternoon of September 10th, the 29th Battalion moved up and relieved the 1st Canadian Battalion in the trenches beyond the Windmill and along the top of the ridge North East of POZIERES. Owing to our position on the top of the ridge and to the fact that no enemy aircraft could leave the ground because of the splendid British Air Service, it was impossible for the enemy to observe any movement, though the relief was completed during daylight. His shelling was, however, very heavy, a constant barrage being kept up behind our front line day and night.
A number of casualties occurred during the relief. Lt.Col. J.S. Tait was completely buried by a 5.9” shell while he was passing through the enemy’s curtain fire on his way through COPSE AVENUE to Battalion Headquarters. His plight was discovered by Scout Corporal F.R. Brown, who with the help of Private Henry Becks, also of the Scout Section, succeeded in digging him out, with the utmost gallantry in the midst of the heavy shelling that continued on the spot. Corporal W.R. Taylor meanwhile secured a stretcher and brought it back. Col. Tait, however, refused to use it and was able to make his way back to the Dressing Station with assistance in spite of his bruised and shaken condition. Corporal Brown has since received the Military Medal for his services. Captain K.C.G. Taylor, D.S.O. took command of the Battalion until Major J.M. Ross arrived from the Detail Camp at the Brickfields, after an exciting trip through the same barrage which continued through the night.
The front line which was allotted to the 6th Brigade ran along the ridge East of POSZIERES and extended from a little Road running from POZIERES to the West of COUCELETTE, on the right, to the OVILLERS-COURCELETTE Road on the left. The Brigade’s front line was held by “C” and “D” Companies of the 29th Battalion, under Lieut. J.C. Ross and Lt.Col. Reynolds, with “A” and “B” Companies under Captains H.W Sangster and K.C.G. Taylor, D.S.O., in support. The 31st Battalion lay in reserve in HAPPY VALLEY and the 27th and 28th Battalions, who were to form the first waves of the assault, remained at the ALBERT BRICKFIELDS to rehearse the advance and rest.
The German trenches were below us on the side of the slope, and from 200 to 250 yards from our front line trench. In order to lessen the distance to be crossed by the attacking waves, it was decided to dig a “take off” trench half way between our front line and that of the enemy. Saps were dug from our front line trench to act as communication trenches to the new trench and it fell to the lot of the reserve and support companies to commence the task.
The night of September 11th was bright and moonlight when “A” and “B” Companies moved up from where they had been in support, and with part of “C” Company went into No Mans Land to dig the new trench. The Boche noticed the movement on the sky-line and thought that an attack was being made. He immediately opened up a heavy barrage of shrapnel and H.E. [High Explosive] along our front and support lines and a fusillade of machine gun fire opened from his front line.
The working party, under Capt. K.C.G. Taylor on the right, and Capt. H.W. Sangster on the left, did splendid work; not a man on the party wavered though shrapnel shells were bursting all along the line and machined gun bullets were whipping up the dirt. On the left Lieut. T.H. Mackinlay did fine work during this operation and with CSM E. Gallant by their coolness and example did much to keep the men at their difficult task. CSM Gallant was unfortunately wounded. On the right Capt. K.C.G. Taylor, D.S.O. while encouraging his men was killed by a piece of shrapnel. This caused some confusion, from which Lt. A.M. Grimmett succeeded in rallying the Company and by his daring and initiative enabled them to finish their task in spite of severe losses. 75543 L/Cpl. J. Owen when his task was done, succeeded in fetching in 3 of his wounded comrades from the jumping off trench, through a heavy shell fire. The casualties numbered 60, and besides Capt. K.C.G. Taylor, Sergts Burnett, White and Gillespie were killed but the work accomplished was a credit to the Battalion.
On the following morning Major J.M. Ross inspected the work done on the new trench which was completed on the night of 12th by “C” and “D” Companies, who had been relieved by “A” and “B” Companies in the front line. From the experience gained the previous night the work was carried on to completion under the able supervision of Lieut. C.E. Reynolds and Lieut. J.C. Ross, with only one casualty.
From the [September] 12th to the 14th the enemy shelling was always very intense and strain on the nerves of the men in the trenches was very great. Communication with Battalion Headquarters was very difficult and in the effort to keep the telephones working signallers were repairing the lines continually, 75434 Pte. Basil Taylor continued at the work incessantly and was largely responsible for the phone working at all. The Runners to and from Battalion HQ had many narrow shaves as the only Communication Trench, COPSE AVENUE, was shelled continuously. Lieuts. Minchin and Custance were wounded and Major Starr and Capt. Mackenzie being badly shaken up by shells were sent to the Brickfields to recuperate. One big shell – a blind – came through the 18 feet of dirt over the Battalion Headquarters dug-out, breaking in the rafters and just missing Major Ross. Fortunately if failed to explode or the whole H.Q. staff would have been wiped out.
There was great activity on the 14th, the day before the attack. The trenches swarmed with Staff Officers looking over the ground. Parties carrying sacks of bombs and Trench Mortar shells and guides from other Battalions learning the way to the front line. The activity even extended to the air where the usual swarm of aeroplanes which was always overhead had been greatly increased and 36 large observation balloons could be counted behind our lines. A German aeroplane went up to try and find out what was happening; it was allowed to cross our lines and when within a few hundred yards in rear of our firing line our battle planes swarmed round it, sending it to earth in a sheet of flame. An observation balloon which the Boche put up far behind his lines met the same fate as the aeroplane.
By midnight the Battalion had been relieved by Companies from the 27th and 28th Battalions and went into reserve at HAPPY VALLEY where a good hot meal awaited all ranks.
At 6.30 the following morning our bombardment commenced in earnest, and what a bombardment it was. All our guns opened up practically together and the din was awful. The enemy trenches melted under the terrific wave of shells. At 10.30am all of the Brigade’s objectives had been gained. “C” and “D” Companies of the 29th Battalion under Captain H.B. Andrews and Lieut C.E. Reynolds went to the new line to carry up supplies and to bring back prisoners. “A” and “B” Companies were sent to dig a support line to the new positions. They also furnished carrying parties and stretcher bearer parties. These suffered heavy casualties from the heavy artillery barrage which the enemy put up over the country behind the new lines. Lieut T.H. Mackinlay was leading his party to their task when a sniper shot him and mortally wounded him. He ordered his party forward and would not consent to his been carried out until the work of digging the trench was finished. 628980 Private D.G. McGregor set a fine example to his party. On the return of each of three trips as carrier of material to the newly won trenches he brought in a wounded man and on his third trip although quite seriously wounded himself he managed to bring his man to safety.
The Regimental Stretcher Bearers showed remarkable zeal and courage. They went out repeatedly under heavy fire and dressed and brought into safety men wounded in the attack. 75527 Private J.F.S. Victor, 75741 Private W. Cunningham, 628980 Private D.G.McGregor and 75381 Private G.M. Morris, Stretcher Bearers, were indefatigable and afforded splendid examples of steadiness and devotion to duty. 430251 Private Kay DeNul, 75031 Corporal E.L. Aubek and 75703 L/Cpl V. Bogichevich were outstanding in their coolness and management of their parties under fire and their resolute leadership of carrying and stretcher parties did much towards consolidating the position gained by the 27th and 28th Battalions.
The 5th Brigade moved to and continued the advance from the position gained by the 6th Brigade. They entered and occupied COURCELETTE and the QUARRY on the North East end of the town.
The tanks were used in this advance for the first time; they did splendid work by silencing machine guns etc. It must have been terrifying for the enemy to see these huge savage-looking creations sidling clumsily towards them, spitting fire from their numerous machine guns and quick firing canon.
In all about 900 prisoners were taken by the two Brigades during the attacks and the number of dead left by the enemy was enormous.
On the night of September 16th, after properly consolidating the ground gained the Brigade were relieved and moved into bivouacs at ALBERT BRICKFIELDS. The following day the Brigade commenced a series of short marches and rests in billets to get the men into condition, returning to bivouac at the CHALKPITS near POZIERES on September 24th ready to make the next attack.
[Note: This Report did not add anything to the Battalion Diary covering the next attack at Courcelette where Henry Smith lost his life]
Visit the page dedicated to the local "Pals" who sought a life overseas but who returned to fight alongside their friends and neighbours locally.