Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Keith Redfern Humphreys
Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Ysceifiog
Name / Enw: Smith, Herbert
Regiment/Catrawd: Royal Welsh Fusiliers 14th (Service) Battalion
Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Corporal 26436
Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme, France
Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: France
Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:
Herbert enlisted aged 19 years 5 months with the Royal Welsh Fusilers and was a member of the the 14th and later 17th RWF (Service) Battalion in August, 1915. He was posted to the Western Front in August 1916 and promoted to Lance Corporal. On 17th July, 1916, he was wounded in battle having received a gun shot wound to the lower jaw. Hebert was clearly in the thick of it in terms of the fighting and in living in the terrible conditions encountered with trench warfare. During 1917 his record shows that he had a series of visits and stays in hospital with influenza and tonsillitis as well as the wound to his jaw.
The 17th (Service) Battalion (2nd North Wales) Royal Welsh Fusiliers was part of the 115th Infantry Brigade, itself part of the 38th (Welsh) Division that had fought at Mametz Wood in 1916. One can only speculate as to whether Herbert was involved in this battle too.
Although only a young man he had been promoted temporarily to Corporal which was surely evidence of him having good leadership skills.
Herbert died of his wounds at a casualty clearing station on 23rd April 1918. He had received wounds to his chest although the actual date he received them is not clear. His battalion had last been deployed in battle on 5th April, 1918, and it can only be assumed that he was wounded in that engagement.
According to the Forces War Records site, the Order of Battle for that day was for the Battle of Ancre at Toutencourt which is described as a British defensive victory.
Herbert was born in Carshalton, Surrey in 1896 to Harry Smith and Harriet Ada Blatchford. He had two brothers and five sisters. By the time of the 1901 census the family had moved to live in Rhostyllen near Wrexham where Harry, Herbert’s father, was employed as a papermaker.
By 1911, still a teenager, Herbert was in lodgings in Bersham near Wrexham where he was also by now employed as a papermaker – a skill he had no doubt received from his father.
By August, 1915, and following the outbreak of the war Herbert, was living with his family in Mill Terrace, Afonwen near Ysceifiog where it seems that both he and his father worked as paper makers in the local mill at Afonwen.
Acknowledgement to Tim Scott on the Ancestry.com public web page for the photographs of Herbert and his family.