First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Herbert Harry SMITH (1899–1918)

Herbert Smith

Herbert Harry Smith (known as Bert) was born in Headington Quarry in 1899, the son of Herbert Henry Smith (born in Headington in 1863/4) and Ada Kate Horwood (born in Headington Quarry in 1870).

His parents were married at Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry on 28 August 1888 and had eight children:

  • Emily Smith (born in Headington on 16 September 1892 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 13 November)
  • Beatrice Kate Smith (born in Acton (censuses) or Headington (GRO) in 1894 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 28 October)
  • Sidney Herbert Smith (born in Headington Quarry in 1896 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 28 June); died aged nine months, and buried in that churchyard on 6 January 1897
  • Joseph Smith (born in Chiswick/Fulham, London in 1897/8)
  • Herbert Harry Smith (born in Headington Quarry in 1899 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 24 September)
  • J. Smith (born in Chiswick in 1901/2)
  • Ada Smith (born in Headington in 1908 and baptised at All Saints’ Church on 20 November 1912)
  • Clarice Smith (born in Headington in 1911 and baptised privately by All Saints’ Church on 26 May 1912).

Herbert’s father was a Leading Seaman at the time of his marriage, and was probably away at sea at the time of the 1891 census, when his wife Ada (21) was living at the Pits in Headington Quarry with her sister, Kate Horwood (16), and working as a laundress. He seems to have left the navy shortly afterwards, as at the time of his first child’s baptism in 1892 he is described as a labourer.

The family appear to have gone to and fro between Oxford and London in the early years of their marriage. They were possibly in Acton in 1894 but back in Headington by October that year; and in Chiswick at the beginning of 1897 and back in Headington by the time Bert was born in 1899.

By the time of the 1901 census Bert’s parents were in London again, living at 7 Church Path in Acton with Emily (8), Beatrice (6), Joseph (4), and Bert (2). His father was working as a foreman labourer, and also living in the same house with his family was another Headington labourer, Robert Goodgame.

By 1908 the family was back in Headington for good, and the 1911 census shows them living at Titup in Headington Quarry. Herbert’s father was now working as a self-employed sewers navvy, and his mother was again working as a laundress. Four children were at home: Joseph (14), Bert (12), J (only the initial of this son is given in the census) (9), and Ada (3); and although their cottage only had three rooms (including the kitchen), they managed to squeeze in a boarder. Herbert’s older sisters were both in service down in Oxford: Emily (20) at 29 Stanley Road, and Beatrice (17) at 185 Iffley Road.

In about 1912 Bert’s parents moved to Providence Cottage, Bateman Street (then East Street) in New Headington, now part of the parish of All Saints. By 1916 Bert (16) was working as a town labourer.

Poppy In the First World War Herbert Harry Smith voluntarily enlisted in Birmingham on 17 July 1915, adding three years to his age and stating that he was 19 years and 10 days old. (Men had to be 18 to enlist, and 19 to be sent abroad). He served as a Private in the 1st/6th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) (Service No. 54194).

He died of wounds in France at the age of 19 on 15 October 1918.

He is buried at the Bucquoy Road Cemetery in Ficheux ( IV/G.16), and his war grave there has the added words “REST IN PEACE”. (Only 40% of war headstones bear an inscription such as this near their base: the main inscription was free, but families had to pay 3½d per letter for a personal message.)

He is remembered on the Roll of Honour of All Saints’ Church, Highfield.

All Saints' board


Herbert’s parents
  • Herbert Henry Smith remained at Providence Cottage in Bateman Street after the war, but was living at 58 Argyle Street off the Iffley Road in Oxford in 1928, when he died at the age of 65. He was buried in Headington Cemetery on 17 April 1928.
Herbert’s siblings
  • Beatrice Kate Smith (born 1894) married Reginald Long in the Headington registration district in the third quarter of 1913.
  • Clarice Smith (born 1911) may be the Clarice Smith who married Charles S. Knights in Oxford in 1939.

See also
  • CWGC: Smith, Herbert Harry
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 11 December 1918, “Heroes of the War”: photograph of Bert Smith of Headington, who had died nearly a month earlier (shown above with kind permission of Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire History Centre)
  • Wikipedia: West Yorkshire Regiment

Back to All Saints’ Church, Highfield roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website