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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 8607
2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
Who died on Friday 13th November 1914
Age 30

Grave 1 H 30
Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery, Belgium

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery

Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery1

Archibald Benjamin Smith was born in 1884 in Derby the youngest son of the six surviving children of Benjamin Stables Smith (1853-1929) and his wife Mary Ann Elizabeth (née Bennett, b. c1854)2. In 1891, the family were living in Derby with Benjamin working as a butcher3 but, by 1901, he had established himself as a sauce and pickle manufacturer and had moved, with his family, to Forester Road, Carlton, Nottinghamshire4 - although Archibald, then aged about 17, was not living there.

On 10 June 1903, in Manchester, Archibald enlisted for 3 years service and a further 9 years in the Reserve, with the Highland Light Infantry. He joined the regiment at Hamilton, Scotland three days later and was posted to 2nd Battalion on 4 July 1903. His active service was later extended and he was released to the Reserve on 29 October 19105. In 1911 he was living with his parents at 16 Storer Street, Carlton Road, Nottingham and working as a painter6.

On 5 August 1914, the day after war had been declared, Archibald was mobilised to rejoin the 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry which formed part of the British Expeditionary Force. He landed at Boulogne on 14th August7. By October, the Battalion took part of the First Battle of Ypres, which was seen as a strategically important town, protecting the Allied-controlled ports of Calais and Boulogne and also gave Allied access to the flat Flanders terrain.

On November 10, German forces began their final effort to take Ypres. Their main attack was positioned either side of the Menin Road, about two miles east of Ypres, as far as Polygon Wood to the north. The 2nd Highland Light Infantry was ordered to reinforce the wood, now partly occupied by Germsn forces. The position looked difficult for the British forces, troop numbers had become extremely depleted although heavy snow falls and a heavy frost on 12-14th November served to moderate the heavy fighting. Nevertheless, it appears that Archibald Smith fell during this battle on 13th November. The German withdrawal took place on 20th November and Ypres was retained in Allied hands8.

Private Smith is now buried in Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery, 6 kms south of Ypres on the road to Lille. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and completed after the Armistice, when graves were brought in from the surrounding battlefields and from smaller cemeteries. It contains 1119 burials from the Great War, 783 of which are unidentified, and 117 from the 2nd World War, five of them unidentified.

At the beginning of the War, the Smith family had been living at 54 Lenton Street, Hyson Green, Nottingham but, in about 1917, they moved to 29 Trent Road, Beeston and it is that address which is given in the official casualty records9. Administration of Archibald's small extate (34 5s 10d) was granted to his father (described as a commission agent), at Nottingham Probate Registry on 5th July 191510.

1The photograph of Oosttaverne Wood Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2They married on 30 March 1875 at St Akmund's Church, Derby (Marriage Register).
3Derby, 1891 Census : Piece 2739 Folio 52 - 18 Queen Street, Derby
4Carlton, Notts, 1901 Census : Piece 3160 Folio 76 - Forester Street, Carlton, Notts. Archibald Benjamin Smith has not been found on this census.
5For an unknown reason, he attested as 'William Critchlow'. His real name became known to the Army in September 1906 when his records wre amended and he continued to serve under his correct name of 'Archibald Benjamin Smith'. His fragmented Army Service records survive, as Critchlow (1 batch) and Smith (2 batches) (British Army WW1 Service Records - ancestry.com).
6Nottingham, 1911 Census : Piece 20577 RD430 SD3 ED37 Schedule 76. His father was still a pickle manafacturer.
7British Army WW1 Service Records - ancestry.com
8There is a comprehensive account of the First Battle of Ypres to be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_Ypres .
9'Son of Benjamin Stables Smith and Mary Ann Smith, of 29, Trent Rd., Beeston, Nottingham. Born at Derby.' (Commonwealth War Graves Commission website)
10England & Wales, National Probate Calendar. This gives Archibald's address as The Gables, Stanley Road, Mapperley, Notts.

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