Smart Cullimore

Memorial: Thornbury - St Mary's Church

Regiment: South Wales Borderers

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Captain

Parents: William and Eliza Cullimore

Marital status: Married

Home address: The Crispin, Thornbury, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Mounted Policeman, Newport Borough Police, Gwent

Date of birth: 1878

Place of birth: Thornbury, Bristol

Date of death: 20/02/1916

Buried/Commemorated at: Le Touret Military Cemetery (Ref. III. D. 14.), Richebourg-L'Avoue; Thornbury United Reformed Church Memorial Tablet; Cenotaph and St John the Baptist Church, Newport

Age: 28

Further information:

Bronze Tablet and Wooden Memorial Board.

Smart Cullimore’s father, William, had several occupations as carpenter, coal merchant and publican of the Crispin. Smart was educated at the British School, and then left Thornbury to become a member of the mounted section of the Newport Borough Police. He was frequently employed at ceremonial occasions and wore the King’s Medal, having formed one of the drafts at the investiture of the Prince of Wales at Carnarvon. He was also a drill instructor. Smart married Ada Horton in 1906 but sadly she died in 1914.

Smart was known to be a keen swimmer. In 1911 he jumped off the bridge at Newport into the River Usk, in full uniform, to save the life of a drowning man. He was awarded a Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal for a ‘very gallant rescue'.

On 4th August 1914, the day war was declared, the chief constable, accompanied by twelve of his men, including Constable Cullimore, boarded the German ship SS Belgia, anchored off Newport in the Bristol Channel. On route from Boston to Hamburg, it was one of the first German vessels to be seized. The policemen, armed with borrowed service rifles, boarded the steamship without opposition, took the Captain and crew prisoner and escorted the vessel back to the Alexandra Dock.

Smart served with the 1st Monmouthshire Regiment and 4th Welsh Brigade, R.F.A., reaching the rank of Sergeant. He then joined the South Wales Borderers as an instructor but, coming to the notice of his superiors, he was soon made Acting Company Sergeant. During the first half of 1915 Smart rose to the rank of Temporary 2nd Lieutenant, then Temporary Lieutenant. He was promoted Captain of the 11th Battalion (2nd Gwent) in September the same year. The Battalion arrived in Le Havre on 3rd December 1915.

During February 1916 the 10th and 11th Battalions were in the trenches at Neuve Chapelle, La Bassee and Croix Barbee. They also spent time at Festubert, possibly employed in working parties helping to drain flooded areas of the battlefield, getting ready for the ‘big push’ of the Somme offensive in July.

Smart was visiting some advanced and very exposed posts held by his company, when he was hit by a rifle bullet that entered the base of his left lung. He was said to have remarked ‘They have got me this time’ and never recovered. One of his commanding officers wrote ‘I had learned to trust him implicitly and to recognise in him a real good soldier, a natural leader of men...Why are the best always taken? He was a general favourite, and always bright and cheery'.

Smart was the cousin of John Cullimore who is also commemorated on this memorial.

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