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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, Archibald Fleming

Private 22647
12th Canadian Infantry Battalion
5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles

Background

Archibald Fleming Smith was born July 26, 1883 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. His father was Robert William Smith and his mother was Emma Cochrane. Archie's family lived on the corner of Charlotte and Regent Street for most of their lives, while Archie would later live with his wife, Ellenora A. Mason, on 104 Saint John Street. Archie belonged to a very large family having three sisters; Grace, who would marry another soldier, John E. Connolly, Almira, who would marry Gordon Hazlett, and another sister that newspapers suggest was married to a gentleman from Massachusetts with the last name Sewell. Private Smith also had three brothers named Alonzo, Allan and Alfred. While few records highlight his early life in New Brunswick, newspapers suggest he came from a strong military family. Newspapers also reveal that Alonzo would enlist and serve overseas as would his other brothers at different times. Census documents reveal that just prior to the war Alfred, Alonzo and Allan were still living at home. Archie would marry Ms. Lenora A. Mason on September 9, 1909, who would later move to 29 Harding Street in Saint John as a widow and remarry a gentleman by the name of Frederick Brown. While few documents reveal the total number of children Archie and Lenora had together, newspapers and census documents reveal they had two sons together named Donald and Raymond, while it is also suggested they may have had another child. According to his enlistment papers, Archie stood five foot nine inches tall, had blue eyes and light hair, and was a member of a Church of England. At the time of his enlistment in September of 1914, Archie was 31 years of age and had spent time at Camp Sussex before the war. He left for Valcartier, Quebec the autumn of 1914, not knowing at the time that he would never again return to his wife and children.

Wartime Experience

Archibald left to go overseas from Quebec on the SS Scotian October 4, 1914 with the 12th Battalion remaining in England for training before becoming one of the first to volunteer for drafts of reinforcements. According to newspapers he went over to France in the winter of 1914-15 and in April 1915, was seriously wounded, suffering from a gunshot wound in the face while fighting in the Ypres Salient. In March he had written home to reassure family that he was "not downhearted yet and was getting a few Germans all the time". Reported in the April edition of the Daily Gleaner, Archie shared his experiences of life in the trenches:

"We are not having such an awful hard time after all, for there is a lot of fun "getting" those fellows, and I think we're getting our share. Of course they get one of our men every now and then, but then that is nothing. In the trenches last night they were calling over to us not to shoot. They said we would be out of this country in a few weeks. I think they are right for as soon as the weather gets satisfactory this promises to be a very busy place. We have to watch for spies and German sympathizers among the people and it makes it hard for us. I think we will be home by July anyway."

By July, 1915 he had sufficiently recovered to return to his unit and had begun fighting again for more than ten months until he received shrapnel wounds to the head on May 26, 1916, just before the Battle of St. Eloi. Archie was taken to the number 10 clearing station that day where he later died of his wounds. According to an article written in the Daily Gleaner, a week after his death, it was reported that the news of her husband's death came as a terrific shock to Mrs. Smith, who was alone with her young sons, Donald and Raymond, when she received the telegram. Later, however, she recovered somewhat and expressed her pride for her husband and said that she would have to accept her loss as bravely as she could and the same as other brave wives and mothers all over the British Empire were doing. Archibald Fleming Smith was the fourth Fredericton man killed in action during the Great War. Archie was 33 years of age when he died.

Lest We Forget

Private Archibald Smith is remembered with honor at the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, located approximately12 kms west of Ypres, Belgium close to the French border. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, during the First World War, the village of Lijssenthoek was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields. Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations. In June 1915, it began to be used by casualty clearing stations of the Commonwealth forces. The cemetery contains 9,901 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 24 being unidentified.

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

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