1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

George Smith

Contributed by: Julie Taylor, on 2008-11-06

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First Name George
Surname Smith
Year of Birth 1895
Year of Death 1917
Regiment Wiltshire Regiment
Place of Wartime Residence Swindon, Wiltshire

George's Story

George joined up in 1915 and after only 6 months in France his regiment sailed from Marseilles to Macedonia where they initially worked on building defences around Salonika. They arrived at the Doiran Front in July 1916, experiencing trench warfare similar to that on the Western front. George was 23 years old when he was killed during the first Battle of Doiran, where the British Army fought the Bulgarians. The British suffered heavy losses that night and in the War Diary entry for that date George was listed as 'Missing'.

George was killed on 24th April 1917 in Salonika and is commemorated on the DOIRAN war memorial

Major Owen Rutter served with the Wiltshires and wrote a poem in the style of Longfellow's 'The Song of Hiawatha' called 'The Song of Tiadatha'. It charts his army experience and includes the Battle of Doiran. This is a very moving extract from that poem describing the aftermath of 24th April 1917:

Had you been there when the dawn broke

Had you looked out from the trenches

You'd have seen that Serbian hillside

Seen the aftermath of battle

Seen the scattered picks and shovels

Seen the scraps of stray equipment

Here and there a lonely rifle

Or a Lewis gun all twisted

Seen the little heaps of khaki

Lying huddled on the hillside

Huddled by the Bulgar trenches

Very still and very silent

Nothing stirring, nothing moving

Save a very gallant doctor

And his band of stretcher bearers

Working fearless in the open

Giving water to the dying

Bringing in those broken soldiers.

You'd have seen the sunlight streaming

And perhaps you would have wondered

How the sun could still be shining

Howthe birds could still be singing

While so many British soldiers

Lay so still upon the hillside.

George's parents never got over his death. His father died 5 months later in September of 1917 and his mother a few months after that in March 1918.

I never knew him but I'm very proud of him, and I never fail to be moved when I read Owen Rutter's epic poem.

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