No.6304, Private,John SMITH
Aged 30

2nd Battalion, Suffolk Regiment
Killed in Action on Friday, 30th October 1914

An Old Contemptible

Lancelot John Smith was born in Ashley in 1884, (Newmarket Q1-1884 3B:546), baptised Ashley cum Silverley 1884, son of John and Bertha SMITH (née WADE).

1891 census...Aged 7, he was at Chapel Row, Ashley with his father John SMITH [37] bricklayer's labourer; his mother Bertha [35] and brothers William [10], Arthur [3] and Ernest [2]. All were born in Ashley

1901 census...Aged 17, a general labourer, he was in Chapel Row, Ashley with his parents, brothers Herbert [21] a bricklayer's labourer, William, a general labourer, Arthur, a stockman on farm, Ernest and Alfred [9], and his sisters May [8], Edith [6] and Dorothy [4]. Also there were his uncles, Elijah WADE [38] general labourer, Alfred WADE [41] farm labourer and Edward WADE [37] bricklayer's labourer. All born in Ashley.

1911 census...John is most likely in Canada by the time of the census. His parents, brother Ernest and sister Dorothy, and uncles Alfred, Elijah and Edward WADE were at Hundon Cottage, Ashley.

24th July 1911, in Revelstoke, British Colombia, Canada, he married Cheltenham born Lois TIMPSON (later REED of Salmon Arm B.C.)

The Newmarket Journal of 28th November 1911 report that he was an ex reservist who had emigrated to Canada but independently made his way home for the war. The report also recorded his widow and 3 children but omits to say if they came back to England with him or their subsequent whereabouts.

However the pension card gives his widow's address (re-married) as Mrs Lois Reed of Salmon Arm, British Columbia and "payable in Canada".

He enlisted in Bury St.Edmunds. It appears he made his own way back to England from Canada and must have enlisted in the Suffolks some time before the war since he was in France so quickly. With a name like John Smith it will be almost impossible to find documentation of his travels to and from Canada. So far his Army records have not been found, except the Register of Soldier's Effects which has his death as at Rue Tilluge ?, near Neuve Chapelle.
The 2nd Suffolks were in France by the 14th August 1914. John appears to have been in a later draft, arriving on 22nd September. In late October the battalion were in the line between Neuve Chapelle and Fauquissart. It was a quiet area but suffered from sniper fire which quite possibly was the cause of John's death, his being one of two deaths that day. Their graves were lost, the Commonwealth War Grave Commission was only an idea at that time, no official method was in place to record burials.

photo: Rodney Gibson

John Smith is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, France, panel 9

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details