Bertram Smith

Village memories: The Beech Tree, Knaves Beech, Loudwater (picture from SWOP website)

No picture available

Private 25965 5th Battalion, Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry
Killed in action on 4th April 1918 aged 40
Remembered with Honour at Pozieres Memorial, France
Grave reference panel 50 & 51

Private Bertram Smith was born in Little Missenden to agricultural labourer Isaac and Jane (nee Carter) on 28th December 1877. He was part of a large family with 3 brothers and 2 sisters. He married Martha Brown in St.Peters Church, Loudwater, on 9th April 1898 and at the time of the 1911 census they were living at Knaves Beech in Loudwater with their 3 sons and 4 daughters when Bertram's occupation was listed as Carman. By the start of the war the family had increased to 9 children. Bertram enlisted in the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry 5th Battalion at High Wycombe in December 1915 at the age of 37 when the maximum enlistment age was 38, later with conscription this increased to 41 and included married men. He was killed on 4th April 1918 aged 40 at the battle of the Avre alongside Frank Cousens. This makes him the oldest known casualty listed on the Loudwater war memorial.

The 5th Battalion Record in the Regimental Chronicle shows the following entry for 4th April 1918: 'Heavy bombardment opens at 5.25am. About 8.00am Germans attack, employing at least four waves of troops. Both flanks go; Battalion forced to evacuate position. Line taken up south of Vaire. Casualties: ............Other ranks killed, wounded and missing, about 160.' Bertram must have been one of those 160. Although Bertram has no known grave, he is remembered with honour at the Pozieres Memorial alongside Frank Cousens.

The picture shows the cap badge of the OBLI. They were part of the 42nd brigade engaged in repelling the Operation Michael German offensive in the Spring of 1918 which culminated in the Battle of the Avre. The brigade suffered very heavy losses in the campaign of almost 6,000 men and that resulted in the brigade being withdrawn from the front line and reduced to cadre strength whence they were returned to England in June 1918 before being absorbed into another battalion.

Additional information taken from the Buckinghamshire Remembers website:
Name Bertram SMITH
Rank/Number Private 25965
Regiment Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry 5th Battalion
Enlisted High Wycombe
Age/Date of death 40 04 Apr 1918
How died/Theatre of war Killed in action France & Flanders
Last known address Loudwater
Cemetery Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France
Grave or Memorial Reference Panel 50 & 51
Location of memorial Loudwater War Memorial
Date/Place of birth 28 Dec 1877 Little Missenden
Date/Place of baptism
Pre-war occupation of Casualty carman
Parents Isaac & Jane Smith nee Carter
Parent's occupation agricultural labourer
Parents' Address (last known) 1881: Little Missenden
Wife Martha Smith nee Brown
Wife's Address (last known) Knaves Beech, Loudwater

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