Rank and Unit at End of World War One
Service Number R/25069
Battalion 18th Battalion
Regiment Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Killed in Action: 9th October 1916
Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme
William Wheelhouse Smith was born in Linton in 1893, the second child of William and Elizabeth Mary Smith of Linton Hill Farm.
William was educated at Leeds Grammar School and the School Magazine, the 'Leodiensian' recorded (in December 1916) that "
William Wheelhouse Smith, the son of Mr. W. Smith, Linton Hills, Wetherby, entered the School in 1905 and left in 1911. He
worked on his father's farm until he enlisted in the summer in the 24th K.R.R."
According to the Leodiensian, William was killed in action on October 7th, while
trying to rescue a wounded comrade.
Some more details are to be found in a series of articles and letters published in the Wetherby News at the time of his death:
Wetherby News 27 Oct 1916
RIFLEMAN W.W. SMITH, LINTON HILLS, KILLED.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith, of Linton Hills, Wetherby, received a letter last Friday, Oct. 19th, from Pte. J. Longstaff, with photos of their only son, Rifleman William Wheelhouse Smith, of the King’s Royal Rifles, whom he had found dead on the battlefield. On the back of the photos was written in Rifleman Smith’s handwriting, a request that if found, they should be sent to Mrs. Smith, Linton Hills, Wetherby. Pte. J. Longstaff buried Rifleman Smith on the battlefield in a soldier’s grave. Rifleman Smith was 23 years of age, and had been in France since August 28th.
Much sympathy is expressed with Mr. and Mrs. Smith and their daughter.
Wetherby News 26 Jan 1917
The Late Rifleman W. W. Smith.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Linton Hills, Wetherby, whose only son, Rifleman William Wheelhouse Smith, K.R.R., was previously reported missing, have now been notified that he died from wounds received during an attack in France, on Oct. 9th, 1916. He was 23 years of age.
He was educated at Leeds Grammar School; from thence he went to Leeds University, where he studied in the Agriculture Department for three years, and in April, 1914, won the National Dipolma in Science and Practice for Agriculture. He was a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and a Trustee. He was a member of the Rev. Henry Carter’s Young Abstainers’ League, and was from some time Secretary of the Wetherby Branch. He was a member of the Independent Order of Rechabites, and a grandson of the late J. Moscrop, of the 5th Durhams, and the cousin of Captain W.N. W.J. Moscrop, J.P., of Richmond and Saltburn-by-Sea, who has been in France since April, 1915.
Wetherby News 3 Nov 1916
The Late Rifleman W. Smith.
Lance-Corporal S.A. Sharman, of the King’s Royal Rifles, a young farmer who went over to France with Rifleman W. Smith, of Linton Hills, Wetherby, has written to Mrs. Smith, the latter’s mother, as under:-
"Dear Mrs. Smith: - It is hard for me to have to write you to tell you about your son. When we left your son he was in a dug-out, waiting for the R.A.M.C. to fetch him. I had only been talking to him a few minutes before it happened. He and another fellow were pulling a wounded man in the trench off the parapet, and he was shot in the right lung and the leg. I gave him a drink out of my flask, and he was attended to, and everything possible was done for him. I was afraid from the first thing that it was hopeless, although he talked to me very well. He did not say anything about his things, and as we had to leave the trench I do not know what became of them, only that they would be buried with him. I am not able to tell you where it was, but we had all been over the top and had a rough time. As I had not heard any more, I hoped he had been taken to the station and sent over to England. Your son was a brave boy, and I palled on with him, and am very sorry to hear of his death. I know what it means to you at home, and you have my deepest sympathy."
Wetherby News 17 Nov 1916
A further letter has been received by the parents of the late Rifleman W.W. Smith, Linton Hill, Wetherby, saying that their son lay wounded in the trenches for a couple of days before he died. His name appeared in the official list of wounded on Saturday last.
After the battle, William's body was not identified or recovered and William Wheelhouse Smith is now commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. He is also commemorated on the
Wetherby War Memorial and on his parents grave.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 25947
The Wetherby News 27/10/1916, 26/1/1917, 3/11/1916, & 17/11/1916
First World War Medal Index Rolls. The National Archives (WO329).
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery and Burial Reports