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Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Soldiers of the Great War; The Fredericton Soldier Biography History Initiative

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Smith, Alfred Moses

Private 709925
104th Battalion, New Brunswick
5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles
6th Battalion, CMR

Background

Private Alfred Moses Smith was born November 18, 1895 in Fredericton, New Brunswick to Oliver Thomas Smith and Elizabeth Wright Rosborough. According to the 1901 Census, Alfred was the fourth child born to Oliver and Elizabeth; however, he was their only son. Together with his parents and three sisters, Nellie Elizabeth, Annie A., and Mary B., the Smith family lived at 218 George Street in Fredericton where their father worked as a shoemaker. While few records exist regarding his early life in Fredericton, just prior to the war, his older sisters, Nellie and Annie, had both married and were living in Saint John and Devon. As a teenager, just before enlisting Alfred had been working locally as a book-keeper and was a well-known and very popular young man.

When he formally enlisted on December 8, 1915 in Sussex, New Brunswick with the 104th Battalion, Alfred was unmarried and only 20 years of age. According to his attestation papers, Private Smith was described as being five feet eight inches tall with, fair skin, blue eyes, and light brown hair. With no military training or experience, Alfred’s choice to fight in the war was likely encouraged by other Fredericton boys doing their part for country. He would never return after leaving for England.

Wartime Experience

Private Alfred Moses Smith would train with the 104th Battalion over the winter of 1915-1916 and into the spring until leaving from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the S.S. Olympic June 28, 1916. He would disembark at Liverpool, England July 6 and spend the next few months training until being transferred to the 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles in November of 1916. By December, only seven months after arriving, Private Smith would be in Northern France and Belgium with his unit as the next seven months of fighting would find the Canadian Corps becoming a well-respected fighting machine on the western front with successes at Vimy Ridge and battles that followed. By early September, 1917, Alfred was in Belgium and had been hospitalized with a case of trench foot, the result of his extended time in the trenches. He would be discharged after only a week of treatment.

As the battle of Passchendaele began with Canadian involvement by October, Private Smith would be with the 5th Mounted Rifles on the morning of October 30, a day that was clear and cold, but windy and raining in the afternoon. From the early morning hour of 5:50 a.m. until approximately seven o’clock, Alfred’s unit had difficulty getting through the swampy ground of the Woodland Plantation; however, they would make some of the best progress of all units that morning. While his unit made tremendous gains during the day and would be relieved that evening, Private Smith would be reported missing after failing to report back. His service record reveals that he would never report back and there would be no reports indicating he had been injured while fighting, although this is likely the case.

Soon after his disappearance, New Brunswick newspapers would report him missing in the field with the hopes that he might be found. However, by November 30, those hopes had turned to sadness as the Smiths received official notification of his death in the field. Private Alfred Moses Smith’s body would never be recovered. He was 21 years of age.

Lest We Forget

Private Alfred Moses Smith is remembered with honour at the Menin Gate (Ypres) Memorial in Ypres, Belgium along with approximately 54, 393 soldiers who have no known grave.

*This biography was researched and written by Eden Jones, Brittany O’Neil & Sheldon Parker, Grade 8 students (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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