SMITH, Walter
aka Ernest Walter Eric SMITH

No. 850706, Gunner, Ernest Walter Eric SMITH
Aged 30

9th Coast Regiment, Royal Artillery
Died of Illness in Captivity on Saturday, 13th May 1944

Ernest Walter Eric SMITH was born in Riddlesworth, Norfolk on 26th March 1914 (Thetford Q2-1914 4B:588), the younger son of George Spencer and Annie Elizabeth SMITH (née HOMER). He had a twin sister Florence E. and an older brother George Arthur [1911] born Knettishall.
His parents were married in Cradley Heath, Stourbridge on 1909 and were at America Lodge, Knettishall when brother George was born.

In the 1939 register at Lodge Garden, Kentford were his parents George S{8-9-1880] a gamekeeper and Annie E [25-3-1884] and his sister Florence E [26-3-1914] later Mrs BALLS.
In his will he named father George at The Lodge Gardens, Kentford as administrator

The memorial has him as Walter, which of course led to a considerable delay in identifying him. Thanks to Susan Howlett it eventually was resolved. His Royal Artillery casualty card has him born in Gasthorpe, Thetford, Norfolk but that is the same parish as Riddlesworth, just east of Thetford.
He was captured at the fall of Singapore on 15th February 1942 according to one Army casualty list. Dying of pellagra, be was initially buried at Nakon Paton Cemetery, but concentrated to Kanchanaburi on 4th February 1946. Nakon Paton was a base hospital about 50 miles from Bangkok.
His Japanese Prisoner of War card has one interesting fact. Contrary to other Army documents, it says he was captured on 17th March, a full month after the surrender. That leaves many other questions to be answered. has the following:-
On the 12th February 1942 the Coastal Batteries were destroyed and at 01.30 hours on the 13th February 1942 the garrison was marched to the Indian Recreation Ground in Singapore where the Unit is formed into an Infantry Battalion and used as support troops. At 16.30 hours on the 15th February 1942 the Regiment ceased to exist as a fighting unit and was disbanded.

If that is the case and Ernest's PoW card is correct, where was he from 15th February to 17th March ? In fact the 17th March was when the British surrendered at Padang, in Sumatra. Seemingly some men did escape from Singapore on 16th February and reached Sumatra, so perhaps Ernest was one of those.

photo from
the initial G is a result of some official transcription error where Eric became Grice

photo: Denise Rogerson

Ernest Smith is buried in Kanchanburi War Cemetery, Malaysia - grave 8:A:48

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