Saturday 30 July 2016

Leicester Tiger - dies of wounds during the Battle of the Somme

12833  Private Harry Smalley 

8th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment attached to 20 Kings Liverpool Regiment
Killed in Action, 30th July 1916.  Age: 22.
Guillemont Road Cemetery

Born in June 1894, Harry Smalley was the son of John Smalley (born 1868) a Mechanical Engineer from Shepshed, and Maria Smalley (born 1871) of Loughborough.  

In 1901, when Harry was six, the family were living at number 5 Wards End, Loughborough. He had an older brother and sister: John, born (1891) and Dorothy (born 1892) and a younger brother, William Eric (born 1901). Harry was educated at the Loughborough Grammar School and in 1911 the family had moved to 39 Market Place, Loughborough.

Harry was not married when he enlisted for short service (three years with the colours) in Loughborough on the 3rd September 1914. He was twenty years and three months old and joined the 8th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment on the 24th September 1914.

Harry had been an apprentice outfitter with Bailey and Simkin since 1910 and his apprenticeship was due to expire on the 21st May 1915. He was recorded as living at 39 Market Place, Loughborough in the parish of Emmanuel, and his religion was Church of England. Harry was 5ft 9ins tall with a chest measurement of 36 inches and normal vision. He weighed 12 stone 9 lbs, had a fresh complexion, black hair, blue eyes and a small mole on his abdomen. 

In October and November 1915 Harry suffered influenza.

On 14th July 1916 he was attached to 20 Kings Liverpool Regiment.

The War Diary for the 30th July 1916 records:

TRENCHES 98 - 101. During the early part of the night of the 28th the enemy fired some rifle grenades into the right of our sector (98). No damage was done. During the night sent up an exceptional number of Very Lights. We had a wiring party in front of 99 sector.

Harry was reported ‘missing’ on the 5th August 1916 by the Officer Commanding the 20th Kings Liverpool. Recovery of his body was reported by OCGR working party; he had died of wounds on or shortly after 30th July 2016.

Across his medical history record are the words “Dead. Single.”

Harry’s identity disc was returned to his father on the 1st March 1918.

He was awarded the 1914-15 Star on the 18th February 1921 and the British War Medal and Victory Medal on the 2nd November 1921.

Harry Smalley is buried at Guillemont Road Cemetery, Guillemont (Grave reference XII. M. 2.) which is 12 kilometres east of Albert in Picardy, France.

The inscription on his headstone reads: "His duty bravely done"

12833  Private Harry Smalley is remembered on the Loughborough Carillon Tower War Memorial, Emmanuel Church’s Roll of Honour and Loughborough Grammar School’s Roll of Honour.

National Archives
Doyle, Michael, Their Name Liveth for Evermore: The Great War Roll of Honour for Leicestershire and Rutland (Billingborough, Michael Doyle, 2009).

© Dr Karen Ette including photographs

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Chilcott Report/ Iraq Inquiry - One Mother awaits answers

One Mum, from 179 waiting for answers from the Chilcot Report/Iraq Inquiry.

By Melinda Ingram

Finally! Finally, after seven years of waiting, the Iraq Inquiry is going to be published tomorrow, Wednesday the 6th of July! Its purpose was to look into why Britain went to war, so maybe now we’ll get some answers.

I am the mother of one of the 179 service people who died during the conflict which lasted from 2003 to 2009, and I will be sitting in the balcony on Wednesday, wearing a t-shirt printed with a picture of my son’s face, as Chilcot releases his report. Many of the families who lost their loved ones will also be there, bearing witness and hoping for the truth.

My son, Senior Aircraftsman (SAC) Christopher Dunsmore, died in a rocket attack on Basra Airport on the 19th July 2007. Two fellow servicemen also died in this incident, which impacted on so many people – family, friends, colleagues in the RAF Regiment and in Chris’s full time civilian job with Metacoat – as every event of this type is bound to do.  

In order to come to terms with my grief I started writing. I now have a Masters in English and Creative Writing, and belong to Ruler’s Wit, a post-graduate writing group. Our third anthology, SummerTales, is available from Amazon, in paperback and Kindle formats.

Here is an extract from one of my stories Little Cuts of Film, a ‘factional’ account of what happened to Chris through a friend’s eyes. It draws on the real accounts of six people Chris knew, his letters and his diary.

Little Cuts of Film

The watery sun makes streaks of orange and pink in the slatey blue sky as it begins to dip below the uncluttered horizon. Against the brightness of the sunset, and the unremitting greys of the runway and the squat airport buildings, two shadowy shapes kneel to guide the closing of the twin flaps at the rear of the C130 Hurricane. The wailing sound of the pipers’ bagpipes dies away as the four coffins we’d just carried in are swallowed into the belly of the plane.

A tear escapes from my left eye as the buglers play the last post, one either side of the huge door. At least one lad in my line had lifted his cuff to his face discreetly during the service, but I’m determined to stand firm.  The whole squadron is watching; A Flight, B Flight, C Flight, Support Weapons and the Boss, with the Engineers and Admin people. Something like a hundred and fifty of us. Well, not quite that many now. Our fellow Oggies are on their final journey home, away from this relentless heat, the dust, the lines of the camp, the flat of the land and the fatigue. We’d never been so tired. So gutted. So proud.

"Parade dismiss!" We turn forty-five degrees together in the lines where we had been standing to attention, and watch as the plane takes off into the sun, waggling its wings in a final goodbye.
"Lads, lads, we did our best." I tell them silently. We’d spent hours every one of the last three sweltering July days practicing. The drills involved in lifting the coffins, walking with them, turning, and setting them on trestles after our normal patrols. Everything had to be perfectly timed so that all four coffins moved together. Somehow it was, even though the sight of the Union Jacks had closed my throat.

I shut my eyes for a moment before walking away. I can see the chaplain, dressed in his sandy-coloured battle dress like we all were, his purple mantle draped over his shoulders. His last words run through my mind. I’m gonna remember them forever. The bit about forgiving their sins was crap. They didn’t have any to forgive and who by, anyway? I don’t hold with all the God stuff normally, but we need the ritual of giving respect. We need to feel we’ve done what we can for our brothers-in-arms. That is true.

I liked the bit he said about acknowledging their good deeds, and hoping that the beauty of their lives, rather than the manner of their deaths would be remembered and celebrated. They were all top blokes. The thing is I won’t ever be able to forget the manner of their deaths, Chris’s death, not ever. But I will celebrate his life. For sure. I’m deffo gonna do that…

© Melinda Ingram M.A.
Ruler's Wit Publications  

You can read the full version of Little Cuts of Film in Summer Tales 

Saturday 2 July 2016

Staffordshire Lad Killed on the Somme

Second Lieutenant Arthur Donald Chapman
Serving with the 1/5th Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment, Territorial Force.Killed in Action 1st July 1916   Age: 23

Arthur Donald Chapman was born in the July/August/September quarter of 1892. He was the son of Albert Chapman of Coalville, Leicestershire, a commercial traveller who was born in  1863 and his wife Clara, nee Shenton, born in 1862, in Leicester. In 1901 the family home was 12 Herrick Road, Loughborough.

Arthur had a brother, Albert Rowland, who had been born in1891 in Leicester. His five sisters, all born in Loughborough, Leicestershire, were Kathleen Mary, born 1894, Clara Doris, born 1896, Olive Marjorie, born 1899, Adeline Shenton, born 1900 and Phyllis, born August 1903.

Arthur Chapman was educated at the Loughborough Grammar School and in April 1911 the family had moved to 29 Burton Street, Loughborough, but he was employed as a boot and shoe trade student and was residing as a boarder at 218 and 220, Kettering Road, Northampton with Mr William Chamberlain, a surgeon, and his wife, Grace. 

Arthur was working in South Africa when he answered his country’s call and enlisted with the 1st 5th Battalion of the North Staffordshire Regiment, where he gained his commission and was popular with the members of the Battalion. On the 1st July 1916 the North Staffords took part in a diversionary attack at Gommecourt and Arthur was reported missing then killed in action, aged 23. His personal effects are recorded as £7 9s 10d plus £35 5s.

Second Lieutenant Arthur Chapman is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing in France, Pier and Face 14B and 14C, where his age is recorded as 24, although he had not quite reached his twenty-fourth birthday when he died.
© Dr Karen Ette
Doyle, Michael, Their Name Liveth for Evermore: The Great War Roll of Honour for Leicestershire and Rutland (Billingborough, Michael Doyle, 2009)
The National Archives
The Loughborough Roll of Honour: