Smart, John Richard

John was born in July, 1887 in Ysceifiog, Flintshire, when his father Robert was 29 years old and his mother Margaret Smart (nee Davies who hailed from Nannerch) was 27. John had five brothers and two sisters. In 1901 the family lived at the Fox public house in Ysceifiog and in the census his father is described as being a stone mason but clearly the family also kept and lived in the Fox.

By the time of the 1911 census the family still lived in the Fox and by now John is described as a bricklayer possibly working for his father.

By the outbreak of the war John was still single and had no children and by December 1915 he joined the military at Holywell and his recruiting paperwork states that he was fit and able. He was comparatively old to join the military compared to many of his fellow recruits at the age of 28. It is perhaps for this reason that he was posted to the Royal Regiment of Artillery at Gosport. He would have spent much of early 1919 in training as a gunner but it seems his military service was dogged with ill health and over the next three years he spent much of his time in hospital. He is recorded as having an old contusion (bruising) on his left knee. He was later described as having hepatitis and spent many months on home leave or in hospital.

John died on 10th May, 1919, at the Fargo Military Hospital at the Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain and his cause of death is recorded as influenza followed by cardiac failure. His family in Ysceifiog were notified of his death some days later and his mother Margaret subsequently wrote to the senior officer at the hospital and in the letter dated 31st May, 1919, she asked why she was not notified of her son’s illness nor given the privilege of seeing him. There is no record of her having received a reply.

The record of his effects show that he had £20 14s 2d although there is also correspondence from his father asking about the whereabouts of a pocket watch he had bought for his son but again there seems to be no response.

John’s body was returned to Ysceifiog and he is buried in the church yard in the village.

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