27607 Private Charles Lenard Smith M.M.
8th Company 2nd Battalion
New Zealand Otago Regiment
10th December 1917
Born on 11/11/1895 in Forrest Hill, South East London, England. His parents were Samuel Maddox Smith( 1866-1927) and Sarah Eliza Burridge(1868-1941).
They were married on 22/04/1889.
Charles had 6 brothers, Albert Henry(11/10/1890-09/06/1987).William Ernest Owen(16/11/1891-28/03/1916), Horace Samuel(08/09/1893-1959),
Edward William(born in 1898), George Victor(10/06/1902-29/04/1981) and Jack Burridge(16/07/1907-30/03/1985).
In the 1901 census, the family were recorded as living at
59 Dalmain Road, Lewisham, London.
Samuel was employed as a labourer.
The 1911 census shows that the family had moved home and were now living at 27 Ewart Road, Forrest Hill, London. Samuel was employed as a general builders labourer. Charles was also working as an errand boy.
At some point with in the next few years, Charles made the decision to emigrate to New Zealand and he ended up living and working as a labourer for F. Ford in Wright's Bush, Otago(north west of Invercargill).
Charles originally attempted to enlist on 25/03/1916, but was rejected as the medical he took that day deemed in unfit for service.
Charles tried again on 03/05/1916 to enlist at Trentham, this time being successful. the medical he took on 19/05/1916 provides
the reason for his earlier rejection, details below;
Apparent Age - 20 years 4 Months
Height - 5ft 4 inches, Weight - 130lbs
Chest Measurement - Minimum - 33 inches, Maximum - 36 inches
Complexion - Fresh, Colour of Eyes - Hazel, Colour of Hair - Brown
Religious Profession - Anglican
Remarks - Has been off work. Operation required for Varicocele.... Operation successful - now fit.
Charles was posted to D Company 17th Reinforcements on 31/05/1916, but only 17 days later had to be admitted to Trentham
Hospital suffering from influenza.
Once he had recovered , he went on to complete his training before heading for England from Wellington aboard H.M.T. Pakeha on 23/09/1916. Whilst aboard he was appointed cook on 26/09/1916.
His journey took just under to months to complete, before arriving in England and dis-embarking at Devonport on 18/11/1916. He marched into Sling camp the same day.
Charles stay at Sling camp was just under a month, before being sent to France on 09/12/1916, arriving at Etaples Depot Camp the following day.
He was while at Etaples he join his battalion, then being posted to 8th Company in the filed on 07/01/1917.
On 04/06/1917 he was detached to 2nd Battalion NZ Infantry Brigade before re-joining his Battalion on 19/06/1917.
His records show that he was wounded on 29/09/1917,but it must only have been slight as he remained at duty.
He was however sent to hospital sick on 04/10/1917 and was admitted to No.1 NZ Field Ambulance. Whilst in hospital, notification came through on 15/10/1917 that Charles had been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field.
Charles returned to his battalion from hospital on 22/10/1917.
He was killed in action on 10/12/1917.
He was also awarded the 1914-1918 British War and Allied Victory medals.
His brother William also died whilst serving in the war;
De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1919 Volume 2 Page 279.
Smith, William Ernest Owen, Leading seaman (239552) Royal Navy H.M.S. Conquest, S(on) of Private Samuel Maddox Smith, 18th (Service)Battn. Middlesex Regt., of 27 Ewart Road Forrest Hill, S.E.
B(orn) Forrest Hill London S.E., 16 Nov.1891; Edu(cated) L.C.C. School Dalmain Road Forest Hill, London S.E.: Joined the Royal Navy 14 Sept. 1907, and had previously been a messenger boy: he had served in many ships of war, commencing in H.M.S. Ganges, and ending in H.M.S. Conquest: Received the King of Italy’s medal for services rendered during the Messina earthquake in 1908.
.” Lost his life by being drowned at sea, 28 March 1916 under the following circumstances: Just before a blizzard, which had set in, had reached its height, the naval liberty men went off to their respective boats, and all arrived safely except a cutter belonging to H.M.S Conquest, which capsized, when `some 40 men were lost. W.E.O. Smith’s body was recovered and buried in Shotley (St Mary) Cemetery (plot 79), Harwich. The Captain of H.M.S Conquest wrote to his mother:” … I would say also that I had a very high opinion of your son as a seaman
, and shall miss him in the ship in the positions he used to fill. I do not doubt that he would have done well and got on admirably had his life been spared.” His friend also wrote that “it was the deceased sailor’s duty as a coxswain, to fetch liberty men from shore…Everything points to right up to the last Bill was at his post and you have the consolation of knowing that your son died like a man doing his duty.””
Charles' father Samuel also enlisted on 16/03/1915 as Private 665 18th Middlesex Regiment before transferring to the
17th Labour Corps, Northampton Regiment on 06/06/1917 with the new regimental number of 47702.
He was transferred again to 338th(H.S.)Labour Corps, regimental number 180275. Samuel served in France between 12/11/1915 and 22/11/1916.
According to Samuel he was discharged as being physically unfit for further service on 14/06/1917, but the official reason was that Para 392 KR VI “Having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment” He stated he was 35 years 120 days on enlistment when in fact he was 49 years old.