George Edward Smith was a member of the 2nd Field Company; Royal Engineers. He was born in Framingham Pigot in February 1891. He was the youngest child of William and Rosa Smith. He had a brother Ernest William born 1880, a sister Edith Eliza born in 1883 and a brother Alfred James born in 1888. His father was a farmer and the family seem to have spent most of their lives living in Yelverton or Framingham Earl. By 1911 George and Ernest (William) were living with their widowed mother in Burgate Lane Framingham Earl. George was working as a carpenter for a builder and his brother Ernest as farm labourer. His brother Alfred was married and working in Norwich as a shop assistant in a corn chandlers.
The service records of George have not survived and so it is not known when he enlisted.He was not awarded the 1914 Star or the 1914-1915 Star and so was not serving abroad during those years. It is known however that when he enlisted in Norwich he was recorded as living in Saxlingham. His name is also on lists from the Church chest of men serving in the forces. He married Elizabeth Hubbard Death in 1912 in the Stow District, Suffolk. He had two sons, George born in 1913 and Maurice born in 1916.
The 2nd Field Company was part of the 8th Division which was involved in the Battle of Ypres which took place from the middle of 1917 till April 1918. The Royal Engineers played an important part in the action maintaining the roads, water supplies, bridges, guns and building fortifications. Whilst doing their work they frequently came under attack from the Germans. He died on Thursday, 21st February 1918 and is buried in the Oxford Road Cemetery, Ieper (Ypres). The support road running behind the trenches was named Oxford Road.
A notice of his death was published in the Eastern Daily Press on 11th March 1918,
G.E. Smith, 21st February 1918, husband of Elizabeth, son of Rose and William of Alpington.
George’s brother, Ernest was called up in 1916 but was discharged later the same year as being unfit. In 1915 he had fallen from a hay stack and had badly damaged his leg. This resulted in his spending months in hospital. He was discharged from the army because of a badly swollen leg and died in 1917.
George is remembered along with his brother on the Alpington/Yelverton War memorial in St Mary’s Church, Yelverton.
Census records: 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
UK soldiers who died in the Great War 1914-18
Papers from Saxlingham Nethergate Church Chest now deposited at Norfolk Record Office
British Army WW1 Service Records (Ernest Smith)
Men killed in First World War-Norwich Local Studies Library.
British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index cards 1914-1920
Cynthia Budd, information about George’s marriage and children.