George Aaron Smith

Memorial: Kingswood - Holy Trinity Church

Regiment: Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Lance Corporal 18679

Parents: Leonard and Elizabeth Kate Smith

Marital status: Married

Home address: 21 Rock Street, Thornbury, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Box Maker

Date of birth: 1896

Place of birth: Thornbury, Bristol

Date of death: 26/10/1917

Buried/Commemorated at: Tyne Cot Memorial (Paen 23 to 28.). Thornbury United Reformed Church Memorial Tablet

Age: 21

Further information:

Bronze Tablet and Wooden Memorial Board

George Aaron Smith was born in Kingswood, Bristol, in 1896, the son of Leonard Smith, a general labourer, and his wife, Elizabeth Kate. When George was baptised in July they were living at Two Mile Hill, St Michael. By 1901 the family were living in Rock Street, Thornbury, where Leonard and Elizabeth ran the Seven Stars Lodging House. At the time of the 1911 census fifteen year old George was employed as a box maker. He had two brothers and a sister

George enlisted in Bristol, joining the 15th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. During 1916 this Battalion was engaged in various actions on the Western front, including the Attacks on High Wood and the Battles of Guillemont, Flers-Courcelette, Morval and Le Transloy

During 1917 the Battalion took part in the Arras Offensive, then moved to Flanders to see action at the Battles of Polygon Wood, Broodseinde and Poelcapelle in the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele

George was home on leave in late 1916 or early 1917 as his marriage to Olive May Johnson was registered in Bristol in the March quarter. During his time in the regiment he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal

The Second Battle of Passchendaele was fought between 26th October and 10th November 1917. Polderhoek was a small hamlet north of the Menin Road, near Gheluvelt. A small château had fallen into German hands in 1914 and was the site of fierce fighting in the following years. Having come under repeated heavy bombardment, the ground was full of shell holes and was a quagmire due to abnormally high October rainfall. The terrain and mud caused physical exhaustion, which necessitated repeated pauses in any assault, allowing the enemy to regroup.
At 5.40 a.m. on 26th October the14th and 15th Royal Warwicks went over the top and, in spite of the bad ground, made good progress. There was fierce fighting round the château, but they partially cleared it, taking a number of prisoners. Then the 15th Battalion pushed forward and consolidated a line. A counter attack soon after 8 a.m. was repulsed but soon the Warwicks were forced to fall back to their starting position, as during the advance most of their rifles and all their Lewis guns and machine guns had become choked with mud. The Germans reoccupied the château. The casualties were very heavy with 5 officers (all in the 14th) and 61 men killed, with 372 wounded or missing

George was Killed in Action on that day. George has no known grave and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Thornbury Roots Website. Thornbury and District Museum Research Group. Forces War Records and the CWGC