William Leslie Smith 1893 - 1918

WL Smith on Ploegsteert Memorial
(CWGC)
WL Smith memorial in Harston church
(Roadley)

William was born in Harston on 16 May 1893, the youngest son of Thomas & Mary of Harston mill.

He volunteered for the Worcestershire Regiment and went to France in October 1914 and  was killed on 15 April 1918 near the village of Neuve Eglise. He was part of a ‘Battle Reserve’ of the 2nd Battalion, a detachment of 130 men & six officers , who were deployed to assist the 4th Battalion who were under attack. There was intense fighting in and around the village and the detachment suffered such heavy losses and were so exposed that the decision was taken to withdraw to hold a railway embankment. The men were sent back one group at a time, covered by the fire of the remainder. During this withdrawal Captain Smith was mortally wounded and only 40 men reached the embankment. However German troops had managed to outflank them and brought machine-guns into action from the road behind. They swept the embankment with a hail of bullets. and the Battle Reserve had ceased to exist.

William was the only one of those on war memorial to receive Military Cross and to have separate memorial in Harston (inside Parish church).

He award of his Military Cross was reported in the Cambridge Independent Press on 14  June 1918. He is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Hainault, Belgium. Panel 5.

This page was added on 08/11/2018.

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