Albert SMITH
Rank: Private
Number: 75453
Date of Death: 26 September 1918
Age: 31
Cemetery: Glageon Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France

Albert was born in Compstall and is thought to have lived all his life in the village until he enlisted into the army. His parents were John and Sarah and, in 1901, he was living with them and his older sister, Sarah, at Erskine Street. He had long been associated with St Paul’s Church and, as a young man, had furthered his education by attending its Sunday School. He worked as an overlooker at Compstall Mill – the village’s main employer – but in the evening earned extra cash with his own hairdressing business.

In 1914, he married Harriet Stewart at St Paul’s and they are thought to have lived at 319 Rose Brow. When he joined up, most probably as a conscript after the middle of 1916, he was assigned to the Yorkshire Regiment and was given 84047 as his service number. However, he never served abroad with the Regiment and will have been transferred to the Fusiliers when he had finished his training.

The 1/4th Battalion had had a hard time during the German attacks of March and April 1918. They received many new recruits and had to reorganise. To allow for this, they were withdrawn from the Somme and Lys battlefields and sent to what was anticipated to be a quieter sector. They could not have known that, within days of arrival and before they were properly entrenched, they found themselves right at the heart of the third phase of the enemy offensive. As in the two previous attacks, the Germans had first opened a heavy bombardment in the early hours of 27 May. Their infantry then attacked on a wide front between Soissons and Reims, driving the British back. During this, Albert and many of his comrades were taken prisoner. He died, of natural causes, whilst in a Prisoner of War camp.

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