Biography of Fred Smith

Biography of Fred Smith

FRED SMITH Fred was born in Wrenthorpe in about 1889 according to his service records. His early life is a bit of a mystery so I started with the facts found in his service records. He enlisted at Wath on Dearne on September 3rd 1914 aged 25 years and signed up for three years or the duration of the war. He was in the 10th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment and was given the regimental number of 15009. The service records show that Fred was married to Gertrude Nicholson at Bolton Parish Church on 4th March 1911 and they had two children – Harold born 15th July 1911 and Vera born on 29th June 1914. At the time of his enlistment Fred was a pit contractor. In July 1915 there was some confusion with another man also called Fred Smith and there was some correspondence between the infantry records office and his commanding officer. This states that his wife Gertrude had lived at 25 Nora Street Goldthorpe near Rotherham but had moved to 6 Cross Street Goldthorpe. Sadly, shortly after Fred’s death Gertrude also died and in 1916 Fred’s sister was recorded as his children’s guardian. His sister was Mary Ellen Gisbey of 15, Sydenham Street, Holbeck, Leeds and she was born in about 1884. Using the above known facts, I tried to piece together Fred’s early life. There was a family living in Holbeck in 1901 with parents Albert and Sarah but their Fred was born about 1882 and Mary E about 1880. There was also a boarder called Joe Nicholson staying with the family. I subsequently found the marriage between Fred Smith and Lavinia Hood in 1905. Fred’s father was called Albert and the marriage was witnessed by Joe Nicholson so as our Fred married Gertrude I conclude this is not the right man. Another possible Fred was a 12-year-old inmate of the Wakefield Union Workhouse and Infirmary on Park Lodge Lane in 1901. This Fred was said to have been born in Woodlesford, however. He had siblings Frank 10 and Mark 7 with him in the workhouse – if there was a Mary Ellen she could have been in service somewhere. I found a Mark Smith baptised at St. Anne’s Wrenthorpe on 6th June 1894 son of Mark and Fanny, and in the 1911 census a Mark Smith who was born in Brandy Carr in 1894 was working as a waggoner in Flockton. I then found Fred’s marriage record from the Parish Church in Bolton upon Dearne which recorded Fred as a miner aged 21 and living at 32 Cooperative Street. Gertrude was 27 and living at 35 Nora Street Goldthorpe. Fred’s father was said to be called Stephen, however I found the marriage of Fred’s sister Mary Ellen to Herbert Gisbey in New Wortley in 1905. She names her father as Alfred! In the 1911 census Fred and Gertrude were boarding with Gertrude’s brother William and his family at 4 Cross Street Goldthorpe. Fred was a coal miner. Fred enlisted with the 10th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment who arrived at Bologne on board the “Duchess of Argyle” on 10th September 1915.They marched to Vermelles arriving on 25th September 1915 where they went “straight into action towards HULLUCH-LENS Road and HILL 70” according to the war diary. They were relieved on 27th by which time they had lost 320 men killed, wounded or missing. Fred was reported missing on 26th September which was changed on 17th November to ‘killed in action.’ According to another researcher Gertrude died on 28th November 1915. Fred was awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1915 Star. He is probably the F Smith that is commemorated on the Bolton upon Dearne Town memorial in the cemetery which was unveiled in September 2014. He is also remembered on the Loos Memorial at Pas de Calais. 

Created by: Janet53884

  • Died 1915

    British Army 15009 Private York and Lancaster Regiment