Eli Smithies


Age 30        Married

Rifleman 4387
1st Bn., Kings Royal Rifle Corps

Killed in action on
Sunday 16th May 1915


At the time of his death, Eli was living at Primrose Bank, Read but had lived most of his life in Sabden.  He had been in the army for thirteen years and was involved in the latter part of the Boer War.

 Eli arrived in France in November 1914 and was continuously in the trenches until April 16th 1915 when he was wounded by shrapnel in the head and arm and was hospitalised for ten days.

His wife learnt of his death when she received the following letter from one of Eli’s comrades

       “Dear Madam,

        I have this painful ordeal of acquainting you of the sad loss of your husband, who was killed on Sunday, the 16th of this month.  The reason why I am acquainting you first is that we have been chums since we were first called up from the reserve, and we made a proposition that we would acquaint one another’s wives in the event of one of us meeting with our death, and I am very sorry that I am the first to have to break this sad news, for I have lost one of the best chums I have ever had in my life, and a braver man never came out to France, for he could never see any danger, no matter where he was.  It was through being brave that he met his death.  How it came about was that we made a charge on the German trenches late on Saturday night and we took two rows of the enemy’s trenches, and I can assure you he was one of the first in them.  But, of course after taking them we had to hold them till Sunday night when we should be relieved, but at 1 o'clock on the Sunday Eli was on look-out, and he got shot from behind by a German sniper.  He lived for three hours after, but died about 4 o'clock.  I do not think he suffered much for he died very peaceably.  Both me and all his section are very sorry for you in your sad loss, for we know he cannot be replaced by a braver man.  It is men like him that we want out here and we should soon lick the Germans.  We dug a grave and buried him on Sunday night, so you can rest assured he is buried comfortably.  What correspondence and things he had were handed over to the company sergeant-major, so I expect he will forward them to you.  I think this is all. 

Hoping you will accept my sympathy from your husband's chum,

Rifleman A Gill.”

During further fighting his grave was lost and Eli has no known grave, he is remembered on Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

In Sabden he is remembered on both the School and Church Plaques.