Save the Staffords: Father was injured twice in Great War
TWO telegrams reveal the bravery of a front line soldier as his family waited for news at home.
The two messages, sent by the Army in 1915 and 1917, show that Private Samuel Washington Smith was wounded in action on two separate occasions while serving in France with the North Staffordshire Regiment during the First World War.
But Private Smith survived the war, and now his youngest son has joined calls to save his father’s former regiment, which is due to be removed from the Order of Battle.
Cliff Smith, aged 75, of Birches Head, said: “I think it’s shocking what is happening to the Staffords.
“What about all the soldiers who were killed fighting with the Staffords? There were so many who died during the First World War.
“My father never really spoke about the war. But he was very proud of his regiment and he wouldn’t have liked to see it go.
“I was the youngest of 10 children and he used to treat us like soldiers, in fun. He would have us marching round the table. They were happy times.”
Private Smith joined the Army aged around 19, and was sent to France to fight with the North Staffords. He was with the regiment in France in 1915 when he was shot in the shoulder and wounded.
The telegram sent home to his mother in Tunstall said: “I regret to inform you that a report has been received that Private SW Smith has been wounded and admitted to transfer.”
Private Smith was sent to a hospital in Newton Abbott, Devon.
He then rejoined his regiment back in France and was again wounded in July, 1917, being hit by a piece of shrapnel.
Private Smith was given an honourable discharge towards the end of the war and returned to the Potteries. His discharge papers were signed by King George V.
Cliff, who has one daughter, Elizabeth, aged 38, a five-year-old grandson, James, and is married to Hazel, aged 74, said: “I think they thought he had suffered enough.”
Private Smith found work as a dish maker at Royal Doulton – and made the front page of The Sentinel in 1949 when Princess Elizabeth – the future Queen – visited the factory.
The Sentinel has launched a petition to save the Staffordshire Regiment, due to be scrapped under plans to cut 20,000 troops by 2018.