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Remembering World War I Yarmouth Connections
Name: Thomas Wellsley Smith Regimental Number: 415843 Rank: Private Battalion: 24th Battalion Date of Birth: March 21, 1894 Place of Birth: Baccaro, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia Date of Enlistment: August 12, 1915 Place of Enlistment: Aldershot, Nova Scotia Date of Enlistment: August 12, 1915 Age at enlistment: 21 Height: 5 Feet 4 Inches Complexion: Ruddy Eye Colour: Grey Hair Colour: Brown Trade: Fisherman Marital Status: Single Religion: Wesleyan Next of Kin: Susan Smith (Mother) Port Maitland, Yarmouth, NS Date of Death: October 15, 1917; Mericourt near Passchendaele Age at Death: 23 Cemetery: La Targette British Cemetery, Neuville-St. Vaast, Pas de Calais, France Grave Reference: Plot: I. G. 12. Commemorated on Page 329 of the First World War Book of Remembrance Displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on July 17 Commemorated on the Yarmouth Monument Thomas (Tom) was the son of Arthur Wellsley Smith (1862-1926) and Susan Alice (Nickerson) Smith (1868- 1927) of Port Maitland. His brother, William Edward Smith (1889-1963) also served during WWI Thomas enlisted with the 40th Battalion and served in “D” Company. He embarked at Quebec on the SS Saxonia on October 18, 1915 and disembarked at Liverpool on October 28, 1915. Transferred to the 24th Battalion in England he embarked for France on March 15, 1916. On March 29, 1916 he was admitted to the Convalescent Depot at La Havre suffering from influenza and rejoined the 24th Battalion in the field on April 18, 1916. On October 8, 1916, he was wounded (a gun shot wound to the right thigh) and admitted to No 12 General Hospital at Rouen and was transferred to hospitals in England. Recovered, he was transferred to 23rd Reserve Battalion at Shoreham and returned to the 24th Battalion in France on June 16, 1917. He was killed in action on October 15, 1917. Letters to Home: Letter from Tom’s friend Willard Perry:
Thomas Wellsley Smith
Return to Casualty List 24th Battalion “A” Company September 23, 1916 Dear Mother and Father:  At present we are staying at a farm “Somewhere in France”.  Been out of the trenches about four days now; go back to the the trenches in about four more days. I received your letter last night, also Arthur’s picture.* and a letter from the Lodge and Florence. Will answer them as soon as possible. I suppose you see by the papers what we are doing  to Fritz.  We are giving him some of his own pills such as he used to give us in the start.  They are an awful set of cowards when you get to face them face to face.  Half of them will run and those who stop to fight never live to tell the tale.  What keeps them up is their big guns and their tricks and underground tunnels. We have taken a lot of prisoners and gained a great deal of ground; that is about all I can write about that.  You will be able to get more out of the papers than we are able to write. I took a course in First Aid about a month ago so I go in next time with No 4 Platoon as their stretcher bearer. Well, how is everything by this time?  I received a letter from Willard (Perry).  He is out of the hospital now, in rest camp in England and says he is feeling OK. We are having quite a fine day after the rain; hope it keeps like this for a weeks or two.  At the rate we are gaining, the war can’t last much longer and we are all doing our best to end it as quickly as possible.  So cheer up and be happy for us for we don’t worry about anything.  Your loving son. Tom  * (Arthur was his six year old nephew)
October 7, 1916 Dear Mother and Dad: You will see by the writing paper that I am on my way to England. We are expecting to arrive early tomorrow morning. Have been sailing about four hours down the LaHave River and will be at sea in about three more. I suppose you have heard that I was wounded. Yes, I got it after all but never mind. We got what we were sent after anyway and that was about 700 yards deep and two lines of Fritz’s trenches but, believe me, what was left of us when we got there you could take out in a Ford car. It was ten minutes past three Sunday afternoon, October 1. We got over the bags. Our guns were to lift their fire at fifteen past three but we got orders to crawl out to our barrage so as to be ready when it lifted. Over we went and Fritz opened up right away with everything he had. It came from both sides for five minutes. Then our guns lifted. We rushed to their first line, soon took that, but there was some fun. We got our revenge and no mistake. Then we made for the second line and here is where we lost the most of our men and that is where I got the bullet. There were hundreds of Huns there with plenty of machine guns and bombs and they certainly made good use of them, too. They had snipers all around in the trees, old houses and all over the side of the hill. Bullets were flying like hail and their big guns were doing their best to stop us. They stopped a good many alright but every man went until he fell. What was left of us took the trench and held it until we were relieved. We had just got over and were clearing what was left out of the trench and I started to do a bit of doctoring. I had tied up four or five fellows and was on my way over to another one when bang! my leg gave way and I dropped in a shell hole. I cut my pant-leg off and found that the bullet had gone trough my thigh about five inches above the knee. I fixed myself up and waited for darkness. Then I started crawling out. It was two miles and a half to the dressing station and they were shelling pretty heavy all the way, but I got out with only a scratch or two from them. Have had three or four days around different hospitals in France. Now for England. Don’t worry, for I will soon be able to hobble around. Can almost now. Loving son, Tom
France, October 21, 1917 Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith  I must try now and write you a few lines but you will have gotten word long before this reaches you telling you of Tom’s death. He was killed last Monday morning about 5 o'clock. Old Fritz started an attack. It was an awful morning, the biggest bombardment I've gone through since I came over this last time. Tom was trying to dress a wounded man out in the trench and a shell landed right in on them. It was what we call a "whiz-bang". The fellow that Tom was dressing was blown nearly to pieces, but the only mark they could see on Tom was a piece in the chest. He died instantly so did not suffer. He was carried out and buried out of range of German shells.   I was out on a wiring party between our lines and Fritz’s front when I first heard the news the following night and it was an awful shock to me. Every spare minute we had to ourselves Tom and I were together and we always shared with each other.  I had a box from home on Tuesday. I thought of Tom when I was opening it and I had to just sit down and cry. God be with him ‘tll we meet again is my prayer.  From Tom's old pal, Willard Perry"
Sources: Library and Archives Canada Commonwealth War Grave Commission Canadian Virtual War Memorial Additional Information: “A Monument Speaks” A Thurston; 1989 (pp 316-321)