Private 55591 Walter Smart, from Anstey, Leicester, died at home on 16 January 1917 and is buried Anstey Cemetery. Although listed as 11th DLI by Commonwealth War Graves Commission, his service records indicate that he served with the 11th Infantry Works Company, DLI and died of acute nephritis, from a ureamic convulsion, at Lincoln General Hospital. He does not seem to have served overseas and there is no medal index card for this name and number.
Private 17553 Alexander Smith, aged 30, was killed in action 5 September 1916, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
He was born Sconie, Leven, Fifeshire. He enlisted at Chester le Street on 31 August 1914 aged 28 yrs 11 months, miner, married. He was 5ft 5½, 138 lbs, 34½ chest, fresh complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair, Church of Scotland. He was allocated to 11 DLI.
During training there were a number of misdemeanours. On 17 February 1915 he received 3 days confined to barracks for spitting on the barrack room floor. On 14 March 1915, while stationed at North Chapel, he was drunk and creating a disturbance in town at 9.30 pm, got 7 days CB and was deprived 2 days pay. On 7 May 1915 at Lark Hill he went absent 24 April to 7 May 1915, and was given FP No 2 for 28 days.
He went out to France with the battalion on 20 July 1915 and in June 1916 was wounded in the right buttock. On 5 September 1916 he was killed in action, serving with A Company.
His wife, Mrs Robina Smith, of Hume’s Buildings, High Field, Pelton was paid separation allowances of 23s 0d which became a pension of 20s 6d for herself and three children from 26 March 1917, increased to 26s 3 from 4 April 1917. His children were Alexander (born 1910), Albert (born 1914), Agnes (born 1913). His brother Thomas was also a miner, living at Beamish.
Smith, Alfred Sidney
Private 91003 Alfred Sidney Smith enlisted 28 May 1917 and was discharged 17 May 1919, when he was issued with a Silver War Badge. Nothing further is known other than that he did serve overseas and survived the war.
Private 17982 Frank Smith of Bishop Auckland was awarded the Military Medal, London Gazette, 2 April 1918. Nothing further is known.
Private 17982 Fred Smith was from Bishop Auckland and enlisted on 1 September 1914. He served with 11 DLI throughout the war, and was discharged to Class Z Reserve on 10 January 1919 at Ripon. He was awarded the Military Medal for his actions during the defence of the British lines when the Germans counter-attacked after the Battle of Cambrai in December 1917. A hand-written commendation from Col. AJ Lyon, Third Army and Town Major of Fins, near Gouzeaucourt commends his ‘devotion to duty, cool courage and good example to the troops on 30 November last’. He kept a small diary during his time with 11 DLI but tore out many of the pages, leaving only four and a couple of poems.
Although Fred survived the war, he lost a brother in the Royal Field Artillery in 1918. He kept his swagger stick, which is still with the family and was used by his son to help herd the cows on the farm. He lost an eye in a mining accident in the 1930s, and died in 1951 aged 66. He came originally from the Thirsk area in North Yorkshire, but went to County Durham to work on the Grassholme Reservoir construction site. Here he met his future wife, a farmer’s daughter from Lunedale. They moved to Morley, near Bishop Auckland, where Fred worked in the Daniel Pit as a miner, despite severe arthritis.
Private 53509 Frederick Smith enlisted 17 November 1915 and was discharged 3 May 1919, aged 40, when he was issued with the Silver War Badge. Nothing further is known.
Smith, James [Alias: see Steel, S.]
Private 53427 Thomas Smith, who enlisted in Canterbury, was reported missing in action 22 March 1918 and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial. His service records have not survived and his medal index card indicates that he did not serve overseas before 1916, so was probably a conscript.
Private 16237 Robert Snowball died of wounds on 27 March 1918 and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.
Born Eighton Banks, he enlisted at Felling 28 August 1914, aged 31. He was a miner, married, 5ft 6½, 139 lbs, 35 chest, dark complexion, blue eyes, brown hair, C of E.
He was allocated to 11 DLI but was constantly in trouble during training and later in his service, with a troubled home life.
12 October 1914 at Woking, absent tattoo from 6.30 am – 5 days CB, 1 days pay
7 December 1914 at Pirbright, overstaying pass to 8 December 1914, 2 days CB, 1 days pay
2 January 1915 at Pirbright, overstaying pass to 19 January 1915, 10 days CB, 17 days pay
1915 at Lark Hill, not shaved at Church Parade, 4 days CB
23 April 1915 at Lark Hill, absent 23 April to 13 May 1915, for which he went to District Court Martial on 26 May 1915 and was awarded 56 days detention, which counted against any pension.
24 June 1915 at Lark Hill, insubordination to superior officer, 3 days bread and water.
He went out with the battalion on 20 July 1915. From 15 November 1916 to 22 November 1916 he was on leave to England. Some subsequent entries in his service records are illegible due to water damage, but there had been trouble at home because on 28 November 1916 he had his separation allowance for his wife stopped ‘on account of her misconduct’, but money was still paid for the children.
He seems to have been on leave again late 1917, and went AWOL from 28 December 1917, being taken by the civil police at Felling at 10.30 am 13 February 1918, conducted to Southampton for escort overseas on 15 February 1918. He was tried by FGCM on 12 March 1918, found guilty and awarded 84 days FP No 2 and loss of 48 days pay, confirmed by Brig Gen W Banbury of 101st Infantry Brigade. On 23 March 1918 he was reported missing, and later reported died at German Field Hospital at Flavy-le-Martel (27 March 1918). His disc and effects were returned from Germany.
His wife was Mrs Jane Snowball of 18 Back Lammas St, Felling and he had four children (Mary, John, James and Robert), one of whom, Elizabeth Mary died May 1916 of Rertussit and Exhaustion. She had received 26s 6d allotments originally, and these had been reinstated 13 December 1916, and after the death she was awarded 20s 7d pension from 2 December 1918.
There was a family dispute over the effects. His mother, Mrs Brown of 55 Windynook Road, Sheriff Hill, Gateshead, wrote to War Office asking for his 1914-15 Star, as she had a will saying she was the benificiary. The WO replied that they had a later will leaving the items to his father, or in the event of parents’ death, to his brothers.
Sergeant 14018 Thomas Spooner was a labourer from Shildon Railway Wagon Works. He was born c 1892 in Shildon, Co Durham. He joined the army at Bishop Auckland on 31 August 1914 and was posted immediately to 11 DLI. He was aged 22 years and 1 month, 5ft 5in tall, with a 34½in chest, sallow complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. By trade he was a labourer, professed to the Church of England, and had been married to Mary Ann Hughes at Bishop Auckland Registry Office on 17 November 1913, witnessed by Thomas and Sarah Elizabeth Hughes. There was one daughter, Olive, born 8 May 1914.
He was promoted Lance Corporal on 14 October 1914, Acting Corporal on 12 February 1915, and Acting Lance Sergeant 18 March 1915. He was promoted Sergeant on 17 March 1916 and, maintaining that rank, went to the Depot on 30 June 1916 after being wounded on 29 June. He recovered and later served with the Army of Occupation. Survived the war.
Private 46289 Ernest Staniland was probably a conscript, serving initially as Private 5/58477 in a Training Reserve Battalion before allocation to 11 DLI. Nothing further is known, other than that he survived the war.
Private 13441 Steel, originally from Airdrie but enlisting in Gateshead, died of wounds 6 March 1916, and is buried Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. The battalion were stationed at Elverdinghe, which was under constant shelling. He served as James Smith, but his service records have not survived so there is no indication as to why he served under an alias.
Private 25763 James Stephenson, aged 20, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, died of wounds 24 October 1915, buried Rue-du-Bacquerot No. 1 Military Cemetery. The battalion were at the time serving in the trenches as infantry with 60th Brigade. He was the son of Hartas and Deborah Stephenson of 76 Harbottle Street, Byker, Newcastle. His father was a messenger for the Corporation trams, while in 1911 James was aged 15 and working as a barber’s shop boy.
Stokes, Thomas H
Private 21528 Thomas H Stokes was mentioned in despatches, London Gazette 9 July 1919. He served with 11 DLI from the outset, going to France with the battalion on 20 July 1915. He survived the war, discharged to Class Z Reserve.
Private 53238 Willie Stones died from wounds in England aged 24 and is buried Beeston Cemetery, Leeds.
Trained with West Yorkshire Regiment, transferred to DLI, joining 11th DLI, No. 7 Platoon, B Company on 23 December 1916. Shot through chest and spine, leaving him paraplegic. He was shipped back to England but died of complications 27 October 1918.
He enlisted at Leeds 4 December 1915, and was called up 27 January 1916 York, from where he was attached West Yorkshire Regiment as 24596. Aged 21 yrs 9 months, from 24 Nostel Grove, Beeston, Leeds, he was 5ft 6½, 126 lbs, 37″ chest. His father was David Stones, his mother dead and he had a brother (in RN, HMS Dublin) and three sisters. He was not married and was a textile worker, ‘Weft Main’.
He trained with 19th West Yorks Regiment from 28 January 1916. On 8 September 1916 he was made acting Lance Corporal. On 15 December 1916 he was transferred to DLI and reverted to Private. On 23 December 1916 he went overseas and was attached 22 DLI, but transferred to 11 DLI serving in 7 Platoon, B Company. He was badly wounded during the German Spring Offensive of 1918.
On 1 April 1918 he was returned home on the Hospital Ship Panama and passed to University War Hospital Southampton for treatment. He had received a gun shot wound, bullet through the chest and spine, leaving him paraplegic. He remained at Southampton until 17 May 1918, when he was moved to Leeds General Infirmary (East Leeds War Hospital). The records contain rather too much detail to print as to his conditiion, some of which is all but illegible. He suffered many complications as a result of the paraplegia. There was some improvement after he moved to Leeds, but he declined badly in the two weeks prior to his death, mainly as a result of inability to defecate due to paralysis; he vomited frequently and was semi-conscious in the hours before he died. On 27 October 1918 at 1.25 pm he died of wounds received in action, at the General Infirmary aged 24 and was buried with military honours at Beeston Cemetery, Leeds, Grave No 2201.
There is some interesting correspondence in the surviving records between the Grave Registration office and York Records. A letter on 5 December sought to establish the exact place of burial and a further circular on 4 January 1919 covering him and several other men, including two more from 11 DLI: 45846 L Cpl F Johnson, died P/W, Connington, Cambridge, and 376028 G Watson, died Chertsey. Despite this meticulous research by one department, it was still necessary for his father to write 21January 1921 asking York Records where the medals were and giving a new address.
Private 76916 Reginald Stonestreet died 3 July 1918 and is buried at Neuf-Brisach Communal Cemetery.
Born Brightling, Robertsbridge, Sussex, he attested Gillingham 21 January 1915 with the Royal Engineers. He was a carpenter, married and living in Tunbridge Wells, aged 38 yrs 9 months. He was passed proficient ‘good rough’ carpenter for which he was paid an extra 1s 0d and allocated 1763, Sapper with Kent Fortress company, RE. He was 5ft 9 with a 36 in chest. His wife was Mary Ann at 5 North St, St Peters, Tunbridge Wells, there were no children and his parents were James and Emily Stonestreet of 53 High St, Robertsbridge. His wife was paid 19s 6d allowance, which went down to 15s 0d pension from 1 September 1919.
Much of the service record is not legible, but he went overseas, embarking Folkestone 17 September 1917, was transferred to 11 DLI, despatched to them on 21 September 1917 and joined on 1 October 1917. He served with 13 Platoon, D Company and was with them on 24 March 1918 when he was taken prisoner. The next information was an item from the German authorities to say that he had died from lung disease at Neubrisach Fortress Hospital on 3 July 1918. He is buried there (now called Neuf Brisach).
Private 15144 Richard Stott, from Wingate, was killed in action 15 April 1917, and is buried at Lebucquière Communal Cemetery.
Stott enlisted at West Hartlepool 31 August 1914, aged 32 yrs 239 days, a coal miner, born Trimdon Grange, married. He was 5ft 4in, 126lbs, 34 chest, fresh complexion, blue eyes, with light brown hair. He was heavily tattooed: a woman’s head, a clasp, archer and lifebelt and ‘In Memory of Mother’, on his forearms. His wife was Sarah Stott of 1 Pickering St, Wingate and he had four children (Richard, Jane, Michael, and Thomas). A fifth child, Sarah, born while he was away, died aged 13 months, after his death, at 3 George Street, Shotton Colliery, of broncho-pneumonia and convulsions, the death registered 20 October 1917 by her uncle.
He was assigned to 11 DLI for training and was conspicuous with bad conduct.
31/1/01914 Woking – striking an NCO, 14 days detention
15/11/1914 Woking – awol, FP No 2 9 days and deducted 9 days pay
30/1/1915 Pirbright – absent tattoo – 2 days CB
17/4/1915 Lark Hill, absent until 26/4/1915 FP No 2, 14 days, deducted 10 days pay
29/5/1915 Lark Hill, overstaying pass and drunk, FP No 2, 26 days and deducted 2 days pay
Even overseas the poor conduct continued:
17/12/1915 forfeited 1 days pay
10/1/1916 7 days FP No 2
He had one bout of influenza for which he was treated 16-19 March 1916 by 60 FA and 20 DRS. He was killed in action 15 April 1917 serving with B Company. The battalion were based near Bus in the Somme battelfield area, mostly working on repairing and constyructing roads in the devastated landscape. Roper was probably killed by shellfire, a constant hazard.
His widow was awarded 28s 9d pension from 29 October 1917. There is a rather sad letter from her (undated):
Dear Sir I have given you all information of my late husbands friends I have given you the name of the street but I do not no what street and number of the doors and another thing Sir I have not got the [time] to go and seek….there all squandered all over the places and they have never been to see me since my husband was killed’.
It is difficult to interpret, but seems to be a complaint that she had offered up the names of people he knew serving in 11 DLI in the hope that they might visit on leave to give her information about his death, though no-one had visited. An official letter informed her that his remains had been reburied as part of the grave concentration programme after the war.
Sturman, Sydney E.
Private 25237 Sydney E Sturman, from Kirton-in-Lindsey but having enlisted in Stanley, died 28 February 1917, and is buried at Grove Town Cemetery, Méaulte. His service records have not survived, but his medal index card indicates that he went overseas with the battalion on 20 July 1915. At the time of his death, the battalion was working on road repairs and track laying in the Méaulte area.
Sturt, Charles Gordon
Second Lieutenan Surt assisted at the Bowlt Enquiry 4 August 1915. A Lieutenant CL Sturt was mentioned in despatches, London Gazette 1 June 1917, but this may be a different person. According to the main medal index card, 2 Lt Charles Gordon Sturt went out with the battalion in July 1915 and later transferred to the RAF at the rank of Captain. After the war he made application for his medals from an address at 16 St Stephens Gardens, East Twickenham.
Private 17561 Robert Suddick died of wounds 10 October 1916 and is buried ay Heilly Station Cemetery, Méricourt.
He attested at Birtley 31 August 1914, born Lamesley, Gateshead, aged 20 yrs 11 months, coal miner. He was 5ft 4 ¾, 120 lbs, 34in chest, fresh complexion, grey eyes, light brown hair.
He was assigned 11 DLI, 5 Platoon, B Company. There were a number of misdemeanours during training:
22 October 1914 at Woking – late falling in, 2 days CB
28 December 1914 at Pirbright – absent 26-28 December, 5 days CB, 3 days pay
26 April 1915 at Lark Hill – absent 8.30 parade, FP No 2 10 days
9 May 1915 at Lark Hill – inattention on parade, 4 days CB
9 July 1915 at Lark Hill – neglect of duty when on stable picquet 10pm-midnight, 10 days CB
This litany of minor misdemeanours continued overseas:
26 December 1915 awarded 14 days FP No 2, 2 days pay
13 January 1916 awarded 7 days FP No 1
17 January 1916 awarded 14 days FP No 1
He was admitted 61 FA with scabies on 14 February 1916, to DRS on 16 February, to 50 NCCS 18 February 1916 and back to unit 27 February 1916. He was admitted 42 FA with a bayonet wound to his left thigh on 25 August 1916, and cuts to hands and face. On 20 September 1916 he was awarded another 28 days FP No 1. On 10 October 1916 he died of wounds received on 8 October 1916 – gun shot wound to the head, with a depressed fracture.
His parents were James Scott Suddick and Isabella Suddick, of 51 Cross Row, Bewick Main, Birtley. He paid an allowance to his mother (amount illegible). His father wrote (in an excellent hand):
Sir, I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter 2 inst containing cheque value £7=6=4 being the amount due of the Acct of the late No 17561 Private Robert Suddick 11th Battalion DL Infantry. Further I should be glad to see his will or a copy of the same, together with some photos which were in his possession at the time of his death, one of the photos were those of his three sisters. Any more of his belongings will be greatly appreciated. Yours faithfully, Jas. Suddick
On 5 May 1917 Mr Suddick received: Rosary, 2 religious books, numeral, packet of letters, photos and cards.
Surrey, John J.
Private 12115 John J Surrey, aged 24, was killed in action 30 December 1915, and is buried Rue Petillon Military Cemetery.
He attested at Newcastle 18 August 1914, was born Winlaton, stood 5ft 10 in, weighed 132 lbs, had 35 in chest, labourer, married. He was assigned to 11 DLI, serving with D Company
On 2 October 1914 he was made acting Lance Corporal, but later reverted to Private at his own request. On 9 January 1915 at Pirbright he was absent, and received 4 days CB. On 7 March 1915 while at Shillinglee Park he was absent tattoo, received 6 days CB. On 14 July 1915 at Lark Hill he overstayed pass, was admonished, and lost 1 days pay.
On 30 December 1915 he was killed in action. The battalion were based at Rue de Bruges and performing standard Pioneer work throughout the month, often at nights and under occasional shell fire.
Correspondence after his death indicates that his wife had died and his sole inheritor was his daughter, Barbara Walker, who was living with his mother Mrs Lily Surrey at 4 Blaydon Burn, Blaydon. The child was awarded a pension of 15s 0d from 17 July 1916 and was clearly old enough after the war to sign for receipt of his medals.
Lieutenant, Acting Captain J Sykes, also 4th DLI attached 11 Bn Machine Gun Corps, was mentioned in despatches, London Gazette 9 July 1919. Nothing further is known, and this may not be 11 DLI Pioneers.