Dublin Branch
Western Front Association

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Branch Meeting 18 February, 2017.

Charles Audley Smith

Private 754

South Africa Signal Service Divisional Signals Company

Died 18 February, 1917.

Charles was born on 4 May 1896, in Rathmines, and was baptised in the Church of Ireland, Rathmines on 2 June 1896. His parents were Dubliner Charles Percy Smith, an ironmonger, and Lily Evangeline Smith who had been born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania USA. In 1901 the family had moved to Glasnevin, with Lily declaring herself a Wesleyan Methodist, and Charles stating that both he and his young son were Episcopalians. Shortly before his son’s eleventh birthday Charles Percy Smith died in March 1907, aged 38.

In 1911 Charles was a boarding school pupil at Morgans Endowed School in Ashtown, Castleknock, Dublin, while his widowed mother was employed as a housekeeper in a school in Londonderry, her census entry shows that Charles was her only child.

Between 1911 and 1916 Lily and Charles must have emigrated to South Africa, as Charles was in employment with the South African Department of Posts and Telegraphs (probably as a linesman) before he enlisted. A linesman was the person who strung telegraph or telephone wire between wooden poles.

Charles enlisted as a Private (endorsed in a different hand as Linesman) in the South Africa Signal Service on 3 June 1916. His Regimental Number was 754, and he was on the strength of the Divisional Signal Company East African Expeditionary Force. Charles embarked at Durban on HMT Himalaya on 17 June 1916, and disembarked at Kilindini British East Africa on 25 June.

Charles died in German East Africa on 18 February 1917 (of “fever” as written on his index card or “sickness” as recorded by the Imperial War Graves Commission), two months short of his 21st birthday.

He was originally buried in Kilosa Cemetery, however, in the 1970s he was reburied in the new Dar es Salaam War Cemetery.

Charles next of kin was his mother Lily Evangeline, she was living in Edenvale, Transvaal, and started to receive a pension of 15 shillings a week in August 1917.

Ian Chambers February, 2017.

Sources: Ireland Civil Registration Births Index 1864-1958; Ireland Genealogy - Church Record; Ireland census 1901,1911; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; South African Expeditionary Force index card; South Africa War Graves Project; Ireland Casualties of World War I 1914-1918; The War Graves of the British Empire; The Register of the names of those who fell in the Great War and are buried in Minor Cemeteries in Tanganyika Territory, East Africa.

With special thanks to Jean Spencer, who supplied much of the information used in this piece.