Village memories: Top of Sheepridge (picture from Darby family)
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PRIVATE 17981 5TH BATTALION OXFORD & BUCKS LIGHT INFANTRY
DIED ON SUNDAY 19TH AUGUST 1917 AGED 39YRS.
REMEMBERED WITH HONOUR ON TYNE COT MEMORIAL, ZONNEBEKE, WEST-VLAANDEREN, BELGIUM. ( PANEL 96 – 98)
Joseph Edward Smith (Teddy) was born around 1878 in High Wycombe , Buckinghamshire. He was the son of Edward Joseph & Hannah (nee Partridge?) of Black Horse Yard, High Wycombe.
On the 1881 Census his father is shown as a gamekeeper and living in Sheepridge, Little Marlow. They have three children listed, Gertrude aged 4yrs, Joseph aged 3yrs and an infant son aged 1 month. The older two were both born in High Wycombe and the youngest in Sheepridge. His father was widowed by the 1911 Census and working as a woodman on an estate in Little Marlow.
Research into Joseph’s Service papers reveal a very colourful character! He was described as 5’6” tall with blue eyes and brown hair. He also had the “bridge of his nose broken” which was noted on his attestation in September 1914 at Hilsea. Here he was given an army number of 18035 and was with the 33rd Battery RFA (Royal field Artillery and was a gunner.
The 5th Battalion was raised in the latter part of 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Army. They arrived in France in July 1915 and almost immediately gallantly repulsed a German attack at Hooge near Ypes with flamethrowers.
They captured Bellwarde Farm east of Ypes in September 1915 as part of the Battle of Loos.
In July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme the 5th and 6th Battalions took part in fighting near Delville Wood and Guedecourt and also led the assault at Guillemont in September 1916.
In the spring of 1917 during the Battle of Arras the 5th took their objective on “The Harp” position (from Arras north to Lens). They were part of the 3rd Battle of Ypes from July to October and saw action at Glencorse Wood on the Menin Road suffering heavily from gas and artillery fire. It was at this time that Joseph Smith was killed.
He is also remembered on the Little Marlow War Memorial and the Wycombe Hospital Memorial plaque.