Norman Smith
Rank: Private
Number: 204580
Unit: 22nd Company Labour Corps
Date of Death: 7 September 1917
Age: 20
Cemetery: Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium

In the September quarter of 1891, William Smith (a hatter's planker) married Susannah Mullineavy in a civil ceremony at Stockport. They set up home at 2 Green Lane , Romiley and, by the time of the 1901 Census, had four children - Bertie (then 9), Edith (6), Sarah (5) and Norman (4).

Nothing else is known of Norman's life, except that he enlisted into the army at Chester. The Labour Corps was formed in January 1917 so he cannot have been on active service for more than few months. The Corps comprised men who had been deemed unfit for the rigours of trench warfare but who could still perform useful service and they would undertake road-building, grave digging duties and the like. This work would often bring them near to the front line and, certainly, within range of enemy artillery.

Norman is recorded as having died of wound he received and is buried adjacent to the wartime location of a Casualty Clearing Station (field hospital). It cannot be known for certain when he was injured but it is likely to have been on 27 August when record show that the Company was constructing dug-outs near Ypres and one man was killed and another three wounded. Assuming that Norman was one of the three, he will have been evacuated the few miles to the field hospital where military surgeons would have done all they could for him. It was usual for the hospital to undertake necessary surgery and to stabilise a man's condition before he was further evacuated to "stationery" hospital on the Channel coast or in the UK. In other circumstances, the doctors might decide that the wounds were too severe and there was no hope for the casualty. Then a man would be made a comfortable as possible until he died. The fact that Norman probably spent several days at the hospital means that either there was no hope for him or that his condition had not yet stabilised sufficiently for him to be moved further.

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