Witham soldier's story of life in the trenches during the First World War

Reginald Smith, seated on the right, before he went to war

Reginald Smith, seated on the right, before he went to war

First published in News

Imagine being up to the waist in the water in trenches for days on end, hungry and trying to fend off enemy soldiers.

Braintree resident Lesley Killin’s grandfather, Reginald Smith, lied about his age to join the 2nd Middlesex Regiment and wrote a short account of his involvement in the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917.

On the evening of July 30, Reginald - who lived in Witham - and his troops arrived on the frontline to prepare for attack early the next morning.

Over the course of the next few days, they tried to dig trenches but the rain was so heavy that “in less than two hours we were up to our waist in muddy water.”

They had “nothing to eat or drink and no ammunition as this had all been swamped in the mud. We didn’t even have a cigarette between us.”

See next week's Times for more of Reginald's story and get a glimpse into the life of a local soldier on the frontline.

Comments (1)

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8:21am Tue 19 Aug 14

for_the_record says...

Caption is inaccurate.

On his lower left sleeve you can see a short straight brass bar. This is a Wound Stripe, which indicates he has been wounded in action (WW1 soldiers were allowed to wear a maximum of two wound stripes). Above the wound stripe is a Good Conduct chevron, awarded after 2 years good conduct. On his lower right sleeve you can just make out smaller cloth chevrons (looks like 2), which are Overseas Service Chevrons. Each chevron was awarded for 1 year's service overseas in whichever theatre of operations the man was posted to. The OSC for 1914 was red, those for 1915-1918 were blue.

You can see similar bars and chevrons on the jackets of the other men in the photo.

The photo is probably 1917–18.

For another story about 3 WW1 soldiers from this area (Hatfield Peverel / Witham), where you will see similar photos and trench letters, see my site here:
www.brothersatwar.co
.uk

It's related to the Horsnell-Doe family of Hatfield Peverel. I'm still looking for info about these families, so do contact me thro the site if you know of anything.

John Malam
Winsford, Cheshire
Caption is inaccurate. On his lower left sleeve you can see a short straight brass bar. This is a Wound Stripe, which indicates he has been wounded in action (WW1 soldiers were allowed to wear a maximum of two wound stripes). Above the wound stripe is a Good Conduct chevron, awarded after 2 years good conduct. On his lower right sleeve you can just make out smaller cloth chevrons (looks like 2), which are Overseas Service Chevrons. Each chevron was awarded for 1 year's service overseas in whichever theatre of operations the man was posted to. The OSC for 1914 was red, those for 1915-1918 were blue. You can see similar bars and chevrons on the jackets of the other men in the photo. The photo is probably 1917–18. For another story about 3 WW1 soldiers from this area (Hatfield Peverel / Witham), where you will see similar photos and trench letters, see my site here: www.brothersatwar.co .uk It's related to the Horsnell-Doe family of Hatfield Peverel. I'm still looking for info about these families, so do contact me thro the site if you know of anything. John Malam Winsford, Cheshire for_the_record
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