George William Smith was born and brought up in the Upper Bridge Road area of Chelmsford. He lost his father by the time he was 13 and four of his five siblings by 1911. He was a bricklayer by profession. He married in July 1908 and made his home in Lady Lane, later moving to Rosebery Road. During the war he served in the army and was killed in action in March 1918 at the start of the German’s spring offensive.
SMITH, GEORGE WILLIAM,
Private, 11th Battalion Leicester, Regiment (formerly of the Essex Regiment and Royal Engineers)
The 1911 census recorded George and his wife living together at 17 Lady Lane in Chelmsford (later renumbered 8). He remained employed as a bricklayer.
The couple had a son, Reginald George Smith who was born in 1912 and died in 1972.
George later lived in Springfield and by 1914 was living at Lynton in Rosebery Road, Chelmsford.
. He enlisted at Chelmsford and saw service as 32759 in the Essex Regiment and later in the Royal Engineers. He was killed in action on 24th March 1918 having transferred as Private 46843 in the 11th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. George was aged 39. He is buried at Fontaine-Au-Pire Communal Cemetery, some 11 kilometres south-east of Cambrai, Nord in France (grave: I. B. 73).
On 12th April 1918 the Essex County Chronicle carried the following family announcement:
“Smith. - Killed in action, on March 22nd, 1918, Sapper George William Smith, Royal Engineers, attached Leicestershire Regt., aged 38 years, dearly beloved husband of Edith Smith of Lynton, Rosebery Road, Chelmsford.
Could we have only raised his head, And heard his last farewell. And kissed those lips we loved so dear, As he so nobly fell. From his Wife, Mother, and little son.”
The same edition also reported:
“Mrs. Smith, Lynton, Rosebery Road, Chelmsford, has received official news that her husband, Sapper George W. Smith, R.E., was killed in action on March 22, 1918. He was the eldest and only surviving son of Mrs. Smith, 53 Upper Bridge Road, Chelmsford. This is the second son Mrs. Smith has lost in the war. Sapper Smith leaves a widow and one little boy.”
A week later the Essex County Chronicle published an acknowledgement from George’s widow:
“Mrs. G. W. Smith, widow of Sapper George W. Smith, wishes to thank her numerous friends for their many letters and kind sympathy shown in her recent sad bereavement - Lynton, Rosebery Road, Chelmsford, April 1918.”
George is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and on Moulsham War Memorial at St. John’s Church, Moulsham. He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
His brother Frederick Smith also lost his life in the War.
The 1918 register of electors listed George’s widow at Lynton, Rosebery Road (later given the number, 11). His mother died in 1918. His widow died in 1973.
George was born in Moulsham in 1879, the son of Sidney James Smith and Mary Ann Smith (nee Stiller). He was christened at St. John’s Church, Moulsham 2nd August 1892 at which point his father was described as a labourer of Queen Street, Chelmsford.
His father had been born in 1854 in Bocking; his mother had been born in 1854 in Bidborough, Kent. They had married on 13th November 1875 at St. John’s Church, Moulsham. At the time Frederick’s father was aged 21, a labourer of Upper Bridge Road, Chelmsford, and the son of James Smith, gardener. His mother was aged 22, also of Upper Bridge Road, and the daughter of John Stiller, a labourer.
George’s four siblings included, Ellen Smith (born c1886 in Chelmsford), Frederick Smith (born in 1887 in Chelmsford), and Ernest Leonard Smith (born and died in 1890), By 1911 only Frederick and George would remain alive.
George’s father died in 1898.
The 1881 census recorded one year-old George living with his parents at 23 Bridge Row (later Upper Bridge Road), Chelmsford. His father was a general labourer. A decade later, at the time of the 1891 census, George was aged 11 and living with his parents and two siblings at the same property, then known as 23 Bridge Road, Chelmsford. His father was a general labourer.
The 1901 census recorded 21 year-old George living with his widowed mother and brother Frederick at the same house, then known as 19 [Upper] Bridge Road. He was employed as a bricklayer.