Private Brian Haigh SMITH


Regiment/Service:
The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Unit:
1st/7th Battalion
Service Number:
2387
Date of Death:
16 May 1915 - Killed in Action
Age:
19
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panels 6 to 8


Personal History:

Brian was born in the December quarter 1895, the son of Arthur (Hotel Barman/Cellarman) and Eliza Haigh (née Hill) Smith. He had two younger brothers, Arthur Stuart and George Milward [See below], living in 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) at 10 South Street, Buxton.

In 1911 (Census RG 14/21243) Brian was living with his parents and brothers at 6 St James' Street, Buxton, and working as a "Chemist's Assistant". After the War the family moved to 10 Hartington Road, Buxton.

N.B. Brian's brother, Arthur Stuart, served with the Northumberland Fusiliers. [see Footnote below]
When reporting the death of George Mycock 'The Buxton Advertiser' (28 December 1918)  went on to say: "As a boy Georgie Mycock was for many years leader and soloist with his friend, Brian Smith, also one of the brave dead, in St John's Church Choir."  

[N.B. Pt. 240096 George William MYCOCK served with the 1/6th Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derbys Regiment) and was killed in action on the 3rd October 1918]

Military History:
Brian enlisted in the The King's (Liverpool Regiment) at Southport, Lancashire. Unfortunately, his Service papers have been destroyed during a Second World War bombing raid. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War, in France, on the 7th March 1915. From his early date of entry into the War it is apparent that Brian was already a serving soldier at the outbreak, in his case with the Territorial Force.

The 1/7th Battalion (T.F.) were based in Park Street, Bootle, in August 1914, part of the Liverpool Brigade, West Lancashire Division. Brian was with his Battalion when it landed at Le Havre and transferred to 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, on the 8th March 1915. The Division's first action after Brian's Battalion joined it was The Battle of Festubert 15th - 25th May 1915. The Divisional History recorded:

"At 10.00 p.m. on the 15th all units of the attacking battalions were reported to be in position. On the left, the 2nd Division had 6th Brigade (attacking with 1/7th King's, 1/Royal Berkshire and 1/KRRC) and 5th Brigades (attacking with 2/Inniskillings and 2/Worcestershire) in front, with 4th (Guards) in reserve. At 11.30 p.m. the first-line platoons of infantry left their trenches and moved out into No Man's Land, as the artillery lifted beyond the German support trenches. The advance of the 6th Brigade, West of the cinder track running from Rue du Bois to Ferme du Bois, was completed with few casualties. They occupied the German front and support trenches and began to consolidate."

The following day, the 16 May, was the day Brian was killed: "12.45 a.m. the 2nd Division ordered a further bombardment as planned, to coincide with the attack to be made by 7th Division. The support battalions of 6th Brigade (2/South Staffordshire and 1/King's) were unable to leave the British front trench to move up to the captured position due to heavy cross-fire from the area between the two Divisional attacks, which had not been suppressed by the bombardment. German resistance in the area to the front of the captured trenches was stiffening."


                              

The CWGC records show that Brian was one of the 70 Officers and men of the 1st/7th Battalion killed that day. Nine more were killed during the shelling of the day before. All but 5 have no known grave and are commemorated with Brian on the Le Touret Memorial.
                                         
Footnotes:
· Brian's younger brother Arthur Stuart served with the Northumberland Fusiliers and was reported missing on the 27th May 1918.
   'The Buxton Advertiser' of the 29 June 1918 wrote this about Arthur:

"Arthur Smith joined the Army at the age of 16½ in September 1914 and has seen nearly three years active service in France, having been with his regiment, the Northumberland Fusiliers, through many severe engagements. This year his regiment was through the fighting on the Somme, then in the fighting during the German thrust for Merville and Armentiers, and finally with the French when the Germans attacked in the region about Rheims.
Much sympathy is felt for Mr and Mrs Smith in their anxiety. Their eldest son, Brian A. Smith, was killed in 1915. Considering, however, the large number of prisoners captured that day, they have great hopes that Lce.- Corpl. A. Smith may be among them, a hope that is shared by his many friends in Buxton, among whom he was greatly liked and respected."

In this case the hopes were realised and Arthur returned safely to Buxton after the War ended.

Sources:
· 'The Buxton Advertiser' - 29 June 1918

Commemorated on:
Brian is also commemorated on the grave of his brother, George Milward in Buxton Cemetery
Link to CWGC Record
The Le Touret Memorial
Private Brian Smith's's name on the Memorial
poppy
Brian's name as a Memorial on his brother's grave in Buxton Cemetery
..... about the Battle of Festubert