Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Harry SMITH (1898–1916)

Harry Smith

Harry Smith was born in Old Headington in 1898, the son of Thomas James Smith (born in Beckley in 1851 and baptised there on 18 March) and Jane Martha Jacobs (born in Barton in 1860 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 25 March).

His parents were married at St Andrew’s Church on 16 December 1876 and had seventeen children, of whom only eleven were still alive in 1911:

  • Harriet Annie Smith (born in Barton in 1878/9 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church, Old Headington on 26 January 1879)
  • Edwin William Smith (born in Barton on 8 February 1880 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on on 28 March; died aged eleven months and buried at Headington Cemetery on 1 February 1881)
  • William Smith (born in Headington on 5 June 1881 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 31 July; died aged seventeen months and buried at Headington Cemetery on 14 October 1882)
  • Thomas Smith (born in Headington in 1882/3, reg. first quarter of 1883; present in 1891 census)
  • Henry Smith (born in Headington on 30 October 1884 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church, Old Headington on 30 November; died aged 20 months and buried at Headington Cemetery on 12 September 1896)
  • [Probably]: Harry Smith, born in Headington in 1885; died aged four months and buried at Headington Cemetery on 2 January 1886)
  • Louisa Princess Smith (born in New Headington on 31 July 1887 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 11 September)
  • [Probably born prematurely]: Ann Smith, born in 1888, died aged twelve hours, buried at Headington Cemetery on 10 March)
  • Mary Elizabeth Smith (born in New Headington in 1889 and privately baptised by St Andrew’s Church on 12 April)
  • Dorothy Emily Smith (born in Old Headington on 10 August 1891 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 6 September)
  • James Smith (“Jim”) (born in Old Headington on 9 February 1893 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 2 April)
  • Harry or Henry Smith (born in Old Headington on 19 December 1894 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 10 February 1895;
    died aged 20 months and buried at Headington Cemetery on 12 September 1896)
  • Jessie Beatrice Smith (born in Church Street, Old Headington on 2 December 1896 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 7 February 1897)
  • Harry Smith (born in Old Headington on 22 August 1898 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 23 October)
  • Margaret Lilian Smith (“Maggie”) (born in Old Headington on 29 October 1900 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 23 December
  • William Smith (born in Church Street, Old Headington on 28 January 1903 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 5 April)
  • Florence Mary Smith (born in Church Street, Old Headington on 4 March 1905 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 7 May).

Harry’s father was a general/mason’s labourer. His mother, who was illiterate, was only 16 at the time of their wedding, and as the couple started off their married life in Barton, it is likely that they were living with her parents.

By 1881 they had a home of their own in New Headington. Harry’s mother Jane (21) was working as a laundress as well as looking after her first child; her second child had already died, and her third was on its way. Jane’s widowed mother Elizabeth (51, and also a laundress) and her brother Thomas (15) were also living with them.

By 1891 the family had moved to St Andrew’s Road, where they remained for the rest of their lives. Of their nine children, five were already dead; those still alive were Harriet (13), Tom (8), Louisa (4), and Mary (2).

Their house only had four rooms (including the kitchen), and was probably one of the old thatched cottages that used to stand to the west of St Andrew’s Church (below):

Cottages by church

Harry was born in 1898.

At the time of the 1901 census Harry (2) was living in Old Headington with his parents and his siblings Louisa (13), Mary (12), Dorothy (9), James (8), Jessie (5), and Margaret (5 months). His eldest sister Harriet was already married.

In 1911 Harry (12) was at home in Headington with his parents and six of his siblings: Dorothy (19), who was engaged in domestic service; Jim (18), who was a farm labourer; Jessie (14), who had no occupation listed but doubtless helped with the housework and laundry; and Maggie (10), William (8), and Florence (6), who were all still at school.

Harry Smith’s grave

 

Poppy In the First World War Harry Smith served as a Private in the 8th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment (Service No. 16287).

He volunteered to serve, and must have lied about his age, as men had to be 18 to enlist and 19 to be sent to the Front.

He was wounded in action in France on 8 December 1915, and died there at the age of 17 on 4 March 1916. He is buried in the Lapugnoy Military Cemetery (I.E.27). He is listed on the Roll of Honour of St Andrew’s Church, Old Headington.

 

 

Left: Photograph of Harry Smith’s grave in Corbie, France, kindly supplied by British War Graves. The text reads:

[Emblem of the
Royal Berkshire Regiment]

16287 PRIVATE
H. SMITH
ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT
4TH MARCH 1916


Postscript

St Andrew's memorial board

Harry Smith’s parents
  • James Thomas Smith died at St Andrew’s Road at the age of 69 and was buried in Headington Cemetery on 30 November 1920.
  • Mrs Jane Martha Smith died at St Andrew’s Road at the age of 67 and was buried with her husband on 26 March 1927.
Harry Smith’s siblings
  • Harriet Annie Smith (born in 1879) married Frank Richard Pether of Cowley St John at St Andrew’s Church on 7 October 1898. Frank is described as a painter and Harriet (19) as a laundress.
  • Louisa Princess Smith (born in 1887) married Eli John Greenwood, a baker of Headington, on 17 May 1908.
  • Mary Elizabeth Smith (born in 1889) married Henry Gurl, a labourer of Headington Quarry, at St Andrew’s Church on 11 April 1909 at St Andrew’s Church. He too lost his brother, Edward Gurl, in the First World War.

See also

This man should not be confused with the Harry Smith on the Headington Quarry war memorial


Back to St Andrew’s Church, Old Headington roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website