Frederick Smith was one of twelve children to George and Ann Smith of Rainham in Kent. Sadly, the couple lost their first four children early on, but at least seven of Frederick’s siblings survived beyond childhood.
His father was a labourer, and Frederick’s two surviving older brothers followed him into this profession.
A lot of Frederick’s service records are missing, but I have been able to ascertain that he enlisted in early 1915, joining the 8th Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment). He trained at Fort Darland in Chatham before being shipped overseas.
The battalion was involved in the Battle of Loos later that year, but it was the fighting at Wulverghem in Western Flanders that changed Private Smith’s life. The German army launched a gas attack on the Allied lines on 30th April 1916; in the second attack on 17th June, Frederick was injured by the gas, and was shipped back to home soil.
The East Kent Gazette takes up the story:
He was brought to Camberwell Hospital, where he was for seven weeks. Enteric fever developed, and young Smith died on Thursday in last week [14th September].East Kent Gazette: Saturday 23rd September 1916.
Frederick was just 19 years old.
Private Frederick Smith lies at rest in the graveyard of St Margaret’s Church in Rainham, Kent.