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Les soldats de la Grande Guerre : Projet de biographies historiques sur les soldats de Fredericton

Les textes explicatifs, les descriptions archivistiques, les commentaires, les en têtes de champs de données et les messages d’assistance à la navigation dans le site Web des Archives provinciales du Nouveau Brunswick sont en anglais et en français. Lorsqu’un élément est extrait d’un document pour être inséré dans une base de données ou présenté comme fac similé, il apparaît dans la langue du document d’origine.

Smith, Walter Bruce

Private 709689
104th Canadian Infantry Battalion
13th Reserve Battalion
26th Canadian Infantry Battalion

Background

Walter Bruce Smith was born June 1, 1892 in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. He was the oldest child of Ms. Ida May Smith and Mr. Fred B. Smith who, according to 1901 census data, also had a daughter named Mildred K. Smith and lived at 154 Regent Street in Fredericton. According to his attestation documents, Walter had a fair complexion, light brown hair, and blue eyes. While little is known of his early life in Fredericton, according to Walter's service record in 1915 he stood five feet four inches tall, what appears to be the average height of a middle school student today. At the time of his enlistment he had a job as a bank teller in Fredericton at the local Bank of Nova Scotia branch. Walter's family raised him into the Baptist faith and according to the 1901 census he lived with his parents, sister, and grandmother, Henriette Smith, as a child. On November 9th, 1915, Walter Bruce Smith enlisted in Sussex, New Brunswick to join the 104th Canadian Infantry Battalion. He was 23 years of age.

Wartime Experience

Walter spent approximately a year in training in Canada with the 104th Battalion before he embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the SS Olympic on June 28th, 1916, arriving in Liverpool, England on July 6th 1916. Walter trained in England in a variety of camps for nearly a year until August 1917, typical of individuals attached to reserve battalions. He also spent time in a military hospital between January and April of 1917 after an operation to treat a hernia in his abdomen. Walter's leadership qualities were recognised early on as he was quickly granted the rank of Lance Corporal almost immediately, later Corporal, during which time he was with both the 104th and 13th reserve battalions until finally being attached to the 26th Battalion on August 24, 1917. At this point his rank had been reverted back to the position of private. However, Walter proceeded with the 26th Battalion to the Western Front in France in late summer where he would stay throughout the fall and winter of 1917-18. His record indicates the likelihood of his involvement with the 26th during the Third Battle of Ypres, and later at Passchendaele, a series of bloody attacks in Belgium, just north of the French border, where 20, 000 soldiers inched across waterlogged ground ripped apart by explosives. Many Canadians perished during the campaigns of July 31 to November 10, 1917. After surviving the horrendous fighting conditions presented during his six months of service with the 26th Battalion, Walter was killed in action on February 26, 1918 just prior to the German Spring Offenses of 1918. Newspapers would report his death in March of 1918; however, the details surrounding his death largely remain unknown. Walter was 26 years of age.

Lest We Forget

Private Walter Bruce Smith is buried and remembered with honor at the Aix-Noulette Communal Cemetery Extension, along with 749 commonwealth burials of the First World War, 61 being unidentified. There are also 502 French burials here. In his written will, Walter bequeathed everything to his father who suffered a stroke of paralysis in the fall of 1952 and never recovered.

*This biography was researched and written by Reann Fournier, a Grade 8 student (2016-2017) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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