Charles Smith


Private No. 51959, 11th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment

Killed in Action 28th September 1918 aged 23

No Known Grave Commemorated Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium

Son of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Smith

Lived Cawley Hill Farm, Heckmondwike

Charles was born on 28th May 1895, the eighth son of Thomas Smith of Dewsbury Moor, a Farmer and Mary Elizabeth Horsby who had married on 25th March 1876 in his mother’s home town of Horbury. Charles was baptised as Charlie on 4th July 1897 at St John the Evangelist Church, Dewsbury Moor.

The family had attended St John’s Church for the baptism of all their nine children, Robert William (1878); Mary Ann (1878); Thomas Herbert (1879); Edward (1882); John William (1884); Clifford (1888); Frank (1890); Harry (1893); Charlie (1895). Four of the children died in infancy.

The census returns record the family living first at Knowles Hill, Dewsbury, but by the time of the 1911 census their address is identified as Squirrel Hall Farm, Staincliffe Road, Dewsbury where four of the sons, Edwin, Clifford, Frank and Charlie are recorded to be living and farming with their widowed father, their mother, Mary Elizabeth, having passed way in the summer of 1910 aged 57. Thomas moved his family to Cawley Hill Farm, off Kilpin Hill, Heckmondwike in about 1913 and it was from this address that two of the brothers enlisted at same time.

Charles enlisted at Dewsbury, first in the West Yorkshire Regiment as Private 75852, but he had been transferred to the 11th Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment as Private 51959 by the time he was killed in action on 28th September 1918.

It is known that the 11th Battalion spent the first days of September 1918 in training with occasional football matches between the companies. On 15 September, when the Battalion was based at Hondeghem in Belgium, the Battalion received 141 reinforcements. On the 24 September a move began, by train and on foot, towards Bailleul South West of Ypres. The following day they were in the trench system just outside Armentieres, a village which had been in German hands since April 1918. The Battalion was shelled throughout this period. A move out of the line on the night of 27/28 September was only temporary, and most of the Battalion moved back to the front lines to support an attack by the 10th East Yorkshire's (which used to be known as the Hull Commercials) and the 11th East Lancashire's (the Accrington Pals). This part of the attack on Ploegsteert Wood was launched at 3pm on 28 September. Though called a ‘wood’ its appearance was that of other woods along the Western Front – stumps of trees; pools of water.

Casualties amongst all the Battalions were high from shelling and machine gun fire and Private Smith is recorded as having been killed in action on that day. Charlie has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial on Panel 47 to 48 & 163A. The Germans withdrew from Ploegsteert Wood later that night and Armentieres was retaken by the Allies on 29 September.

Charlie Smith’s war effects and gratuity was sent to his eldest brother and grantee, Thomas H. Smith in 1919 as their father, Thomas Smith, had died on 15 Jan 1919 aged 68.

After the Great War, Charlie's brother Frank, is listed as a survivor in the Heckmondwike Memorial Book. He was a 29 year old Butcher and Farmer living at Cawley Lane Farm when he married Nellie Wilby in 1920. As their father Thomas Smith had died by that time, Clifford witnessed their marriage. Clifford died the following year aged only 33. This address was used when Charles Smith was remembered in the Heckmondwike Vellum Book which together with the Memorial in the Green Park was funded by Heckmondwike townspeople by public subscription and in remembrance of their sacrifice.{KH/AG-ex7}

Medals: Victory and British

Commemorated on: Heckmondwike Green Park Memorial and Vellum Roll; Dewsbury Memorial in Crow Nest Park; Dewsbury Roll of Honour; The St John's Church, Dewsbury War Memorial.

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