Douglas SMITH
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 250382
Unit: 1/6th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 24 June 1918
Cemetery: Bertrancourt Military Cemetery, Somme, France

Douglas was the son of James Smith who lived at 11 Beech Road, Cheadle Hulme. He had been born at Levenshulme, Manchester.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records as rank as Corporal, which suggests that he may have been promoted only shortly before he was killed and his family were never properly advised.

Many of the men remembered on our local war memorials died during major attacks, often those which feature in the history books. This was not the case with Douglas. He would be one of two men from the Battalion to be killed on what was a "normal" day in the trenches. The day before, the Manchesters had taken over a section of the front line. The Battalion's War Diary, written at the time, is very detailed for 24 June and is reproduced below in its entirety:-

"The morning was spent by front line companies in improving the trenches and shelters, by the support companies in wiring their localities - a much needed work. With the exception of salvos (sic) of light shells in the vicinity of Railway Avenue, the morning was quiet. At 3am, a daylight patrol of 3 OR (other ranks) under Sgt Chambers left our line to reconnoitre concrete machine gun emplacement at Palestine trench and 30 yards beyond. The patrol proceeded to the emplacement and, close by, found 5 enemy dead. Papers and epaulets (sic) were secured. The emplacement was examined and showed no signs of recent occupation. The party proceeded 30 yards beyond the emplacement but saw no signs of movement. They returned at 4.15 am to the point where they had left our trench.

At 10.15pm, a patrol of 2 OR under 2nd Lt Slee (? - not legible), "C" Coy, left our line to ascertain whether MG (machine gun) position at K27.D.8.6 was occupied. The patrol proceeded along railway Avenue towards Signy farm. They were fired upon by the machine gun. The patrol returned to the point of exit at 10.45pm.

At 10.30pm, 2nd Lt P O Walker took out a patrol of 3 OR to reconnoitre suspected machine gun posts in K27.D7.8. On approaching suspected post, patrol encountered heavy machine gun and rifle fire and was unable to proceed further. They returned to our line at 11.15pm. No casualties occurred to any of the above patrols.

Observation from the front line is good and during the day considerable movement of isolated men and small parties was observed. At 10.35pm, message was received from "B" Coy, stating that they were being heavily shelled by enemy's 4.2 howitzers and guns of small calibre, from the direction of Serre. This continued until 11.45pm when the shelling on "B" Coys area lessened slightly, but increased on the locality occupied by "C" Coy. Retaliation was asked for and was quickly given by the artillery. Casualties - 2 Other ranks killed."

Douglas had died on a quiet day on the Somme.

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