Gordon Hamilton Smith
2nd Lieutenant, Devon Regiment
Gordon Hamilton Smith was born in Brixton on 26 November 1887, the fifth son of Alexander James Smith and Elspeth Smith. He was a pupil at Alleyn’s from September 1900 until July 1902 and lived with his mother, Elspeth Smith, at 21 Gairloch Road, Camberwell during this time. His father is listed as a bricklayer, although his name is not given in the School registers. After leaving school he became a Bank Clerk and on 14 March 1909 he joined the 14th Company London Scottish (Territorial Force), for a period of 4 years. The sepia picture of Gordon to the right was taken in 1912 in his London Scottish TA Uniform.
On 2 December 1915 he attested in the 28th Battalion of the London Regiment (Artists Rifles), and was mobilized on 19 February 1916. Two days later, at his own request, he was transferred to the 28th London Regiment Officer Training Corps at Hare Hall Camp, near Romford, Essex. He was appointed as unpaid Lance Corporal on 27 July 1916, and on 21 November he was discharged to a Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Devonshire Regiment. He went overseas and joined the 8th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment on 25 January 1917, in Beauval, France. This was a rear area of the Somme battlefield, where the Battalion were undergoing training. They remained doing this for a month, and then proceeded to the front line after reports that the enemy were retiring all along the front.
In May 1917, he was part of the forces involved in the British Arras Offensive; a major operation that the Allies hoped would turn the tide of the war. During this offensive, Gordon was sent out with a company on a bombing expedition to clear out an active German trench that had been disrupting operations. The situation became heated quickly, but Gordon and his men held on, determined to carry out their objective. In order to give his men confidence in this tight situation, Gordon broke cover in a tremendous display of courage so his company could see him giving orders and direction. Unfortunately, he was shot through the heart by a German sniper shortly after this act of bravery. After his passing, Gordon’s Commanding Officer stated that ‘he always showed the greatest enthusiasm, keenness and ability with his work. His heart and soul were for his men and the interests of the company. He behaved with great gallantry’.
With thanks to Gordon's great nephew, Martin King, for providing much of this information