Service Number 781815
Battalion C Battery, 246 Brigade
Regiment Royal Field Artillery
Edward Ralph Smith was born in Leeds in 1895, the son of Arthur Edward and Sarah Smith.
By 1911, Edward and his parents were living at Langwith Terrace, Collingham, where his father was a ladies blouse manufacturer. Edward had two older sisters, Winifred (who was assisting in her father's business) and Ida Constant; and a younger brother, Eric West Smith, who also served in World War 1. Both Edward and Eric were at school.
On the 3rd September 1914, in answer to the country's call for volunteers, Edward Ralph Smith attested into the Army and he was embodied into the Royal Field Artillery and underwent his basic army training until the 16th April 1915. On that day he embarked and served in France, disembarking on the 17th April 1915 in Le Havre. Edward served at first with the 1/1st West Riding Brigade ammunition column and then with the 1/1st West Riding Divisional Ammunition Column.
At Christmas 1915 he was granted 7 days leave, but we don't know if he returned home. However he continued serving in France until 15th January 1916. He then served in the UK spending some time, from 26th April to 22 May, with the 32nd Divisional Ammunition Column. On that later day, Edward rejoined his unit and on the 1st July 1916 he returned to France.
On the 1st September 1916, the 1/1st West Riding brigade became B Battery of 248nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (RFA) and Edward served with them until the 18th October 1916 when he was granted 10 days leave. After leave he returned to his unit and on the 5th November 1917, he was wounded in the back. His record shows he suffered a severe, penetrating gun shot wound to the back and that he was admitted (on the 8th November 1917) to 24 General Hospital in Etaples. The wound was severe enough that Edward was evacuated back to England on the 24-25th November 1917.
After just over 2 months, on the 9th February 1918, Edward was posted back to France, this time with C Battery, 77th Brigade, RFA. Men were often moved between units, especially in the Artillery, and a month after joining 77 Brigade, Edward was posted on to C Battery, 246th Brigade RFA between the 11th and 16th March 1918. Just three days later, on the 19th March 1918, Edward was admitted to the 7th Canadian General Hospital in Etaples with severe shot wounds to his left arm, left forearm and back. We do not know how long Edward stayed in hospital on that occasion, but he was granted 14 days leave in the UK on the 13th January 1919 and he rejoined his unit on the 20th February 1919. His final return to the UK was on the 1st April 1919 and he was finally disembodied and demobilised from the Army on the 28th April 1918.
Edward Ralph Smith returned to Collingham and on the 26th April 1923, he married Norah Fielding, a spinster from East Keswick, in St Oswald's Church in Collingham.
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