Smith, James Herbert

James Herbert (Herb) Smith, 3rd Battalion, CEF
James Herbert (Herb) Smith, 3rd Battalion, CEF

James Herbert “Herb” Smith was born in Hamilton, Ontario 10 August 1896, son of William Smith and Margaret Ellen Murray.

He enlisted 25th of February 1916 into the 129th Overseas Battalion at the age of 19.

He sailed to England on board RMS OLYMPIC on 21 August 1916, disembarking 30 of August 1916 at Liverpool and was sent to Whitley. He trained there until 19 October 1916 when he was transferred to the 124th Overseas Battalion when he was sent to Bramshott, United Kingdom. On 27 of November 1916, he was transferred back to Whitley to join the 3rd Battalion (which was already in France), and arrived in France on 29 November.

First World War identity tag of James Herbert Smith, 3rd Battalion
First World War identity tag of James Herbert Smith, 3rd Battalion

Details are sketchy but duplicate entries on his service record show he was taken on strength sometime between the 3rd and 6th of December 1916. With the Battalion located at Camblain-L’Abbe on 3 December 1916, unit war diaries state: “Draft of 150 O.R. [other ranks] from 123rd, 124th, and 129th Canadian Bns reported this date. Draft paraded to school and drew small box respirators”. A notation made on the 4th states that “Draft which reported on 3rd “inst” sent to Divisional School for training”.

He may have been a clerk but his son William stated that he finished the war as a Lewis Gunner. Herb survived without any wounds, but was believed to have been gassed at some point.

Upon returning to Canada, he married Sadie Eaton, a British Home Girl, in Hamilton on 15 June 1920. They had two sons, Russell, born 27 Oct 1921 and William, born 15 Oct 1931. They also adopted a girl, Sheila, born 12 April 1938.

Herb Smith passed away on 20 April 1978 in Hamilton and is buried in Hamilton Cemetery across the street from Dundurn Castle.

Herb Smith (seated) returning home to Hamilton from WWI
Colourized black and white photograph of Herb Smith (seated) returning home to Wilson St, Hamilton from the First World War.

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