Edward Smith

Edward Smith with niece Marie Holden

Edward Smith with his niece Marie Holden

Edward Smith was born 1898 in Consett, Co. Durham. He was the son of Charles Smith, born North Shields, Northumberland, and Esther, born Jarrow, Co. Durham. He was baptized April 13, 1898 in the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Shotley Bridge.

Edward had 4 sisters. In the 1911 census the family was living at 7, Berryedge Road, Consett. Charles Smith was working as an iron moulder for the Consett Iron Company.

1914 Edward was an apprentice fitter and turner in the locomotive and steam crane repair shop of the Consett Iron Company. He was 16 and had gone through work on drilling machines, shaping machines, wheel lathe and was then on a smaller lathe.

Towards the end of August 1914, Edward decided to join up. He went to Newcastle and told the local recruiting sergeant that he was 18. The sergeant told him "You are a fine big chap, you had better say you are 19", which Edward did. Edward joined the Northumberland Fusiliers. They paraded on the Town Moor under volunteer corporals and sergeants, one of whom told them "Aroond aboot turn".

Edward trained for 10 days, sleeping in railway carriages. Edward's father had threatened to tell the authorities his real age, but Edward said he would go elsewhere if he did and would not tell him where he was.

Winston Churchill, First Lord of theAdmiralty, had formed a Naval Brigade formed by Anson, Howe, Hood and Nelson. The pay was 1/3d a day instead of the 1/- a day for the army. Volunteers were asked for and Edward joined up to theAnson division.

Churchill took over Crystal Palace and called it HMS Victory. Edward trained there for 3 months and was then sent to Blandford Downs in Dorset. There Edward was given an army khaki uniform, the only difference being a khaki sailor's cap with a ribbon with the name of the battalion.

After 3 months they entrained at Avonmouth to join the troopship Grandtully. Edward landed at Port Said on his 17th birthday. After 10 days they went by train to Alexandria. The next day he boarded the S.S. Caledonia, joining the 1st Lancashires, Dublins, Munsters and Enniskillens and they sailed to Gallipoli.

April 25, 1915, before 5 a.m., a steam pinnace and 5 cutters took the troops ashore. There were a few casualties, but the 1st Lancashires, further east on W beach, suffered, losing 90 men on the strong barbed wire.

May 6th Edward was advancing in 50 yard rushes when his foot was shot by a machine gun bullet. Edward was taken by stretcher bearers back to camp. He was then sent to Malta, where he had 2 operations. He then caught Maltese fever which nearly killed him. Edward was returned to Portland Naval Hospital. After another operation on his foot he was declared fit for service. However, while training or marching his foot kept swelling up and so he was returned to hospital.

Edward was discharged February 26, 1916 and returned back home to Consett. There he resumed his apprenticeship, making up for lost time by doing overtime. He finished his apprenticeship when he was 21.

Edward eventually emigrated to New Zealand, and worked the last 20 years 9 months of his working life as an engineer at Dunedin Hospital. He retired age 64 in 1962 when his injured foot caused him problems.

Edward is the uncle of Marie Holden of Aycliffe.