Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthJuly 20, 1879
Place of BirthBurford, Brant Co., Ontario
Marital StatusMarried
Next of KinWife - Annie
Trade / CallingClerk - Grocery store
Service Details
Regimental Number1000934
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion43rd Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Address at EnlistmentWawanesa, MB
Date of EnlistmentMarch 8, 1916
Age at Enlistment36
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarNo
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 30, 1918
Age at Death38
Buried AtOrpington (All Saints) Churchyard Extension, Kent, United Kingdom
PlotA. 13.

Smith, Herbert Douglas Sinclair

Herbert Douglas Sinclair Smith was one of the over 4,000 Canadian fatal casualties of the Battle of Passchendaele Oct 27-Nov 12, 1917). Badly wounded during the battle, he later died in hospital in England.

Born July 20, 1879/1878 in Burford Township, Brant County, Ontario to William Taylor Smith and Margaret Matilda Carpenter, Herbert grew up on the family farm along with his older brother William (born in 1866), and sisters Minnie (1868) and Margaret (1870). Herbert’s Ontario birth registration records his year of birth as 1978, however he used 1879 on his Attestation form and most census and other records use 1879 as the year of his birth.

Herbert’s father passed away in April 1894 from inhaling gas. The family left the farm and moved into the nearby town of Brantford where the 1901 census records Herbert working as a grocery store clerk, living with his widowed mother and sister Margaret. Herbert then moved west, stopping first in Kenora, Ontario where he stayed long enough to join the local Masonic lodge, Lake of the Woods Lodge No. 414.

By 1907 Herbert had moved on to Manitoba where he married Annie Eaton on Sept. 10, 1907 in the rural township of Oakland. They settled in the township’s main village of Wawanesa where Herbert continued to work as a grocery store clerk. They had a daughter, Murial, born in Aug. 1909. The 1911 census records the family as living on Fourth Street in the village.

In March 1916 Herbert travelled to Carberry, Manitoba, about 30 km northwest of Wawanesa, and enlisted in the 226th (Men of the North) Battalion. Headquartered in Dauphin, the battalion recruited throughout the smaller farming communities of western Manitoba in the spring and summer of 1916 and trained at Camp Hughes, located between Carberry and Brandon.

To make ends meet while Herbert was in the army, the June 1916 Western Canada census records Annie had taken in two boarders at her Wawanesa home — teacher Anna Miller and insurance office worker Christinia McKay. Wawanesa was home to the Wawanesa Insurance Company at the time and the company still maintains its head office of record there.

The 226th Battalion shipped overseas in December of 1916 under the command of Lt. Col R.A.G. Gillespie with 32 officers and 1,035 other ranks aboard the Olympic, a sister ship to the ill-fatedTitanic. After spending Christmas afloat the 226th disembarked at Liverpool, England on Dec. 28, 1916.

In early January the battalion was broken up for use as replacement troops for units already in the field. About half the men from the 226th were transferred to the newly created 14th (Manitoba) Reserve Battalion which was to provide re-enforcements to 16th (Vancouver-based Canadian Scottish), 43rd (Winnipeg-based Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders) and 44th (Manitoba) battalions.

The 43rd Battalion, along with the Northwestern Ontario-recruited 52nd Battalion and the 58th and 116th Battalions from southern Ontario, formed the 9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Division of the Canadian Corps in France. Herbert Smith was one of about 20 men with known Kenora/Keewatin connections to serve in the 43rd during the war.

The exact circumstances of Herbert Smith’s wounding aren’t known. The army’s Circumstances of Death Register binders for names beginning with Sip to Z have not survived and due to the large number of casualties at Passchendaele — over 3,000 killed in action, 1,000 missing and presumed dead and 11,000 wounded – the army did not begin releasing casualty lists until late November of 1917. Herbert Smith was listed in a Nov. 30 release of names published in the Winnipeg Free Press on Dec. 4, 1917 as ‘seriously ill’. A Feb. 2, 1918 list, published Feb. 12, reported his death from wounds.

The war diary of the 43rd Battalion records they suffered 349 casualties — 39 killed, 66 missing and 244 wounded — out of 497 officers and men who took part in the the first two days of the battle on Oct. 26 and Oct. 27. After being replaced in the line due to the losses, the battalion was re-enforced and returned to the front lines during the final days of the battle Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 in which a further 14 officers and men were reported killed, 36 wounded and one man missing.

Herbert was evacuated at some point to England where he died of gun shot wounds to the right buttocks and left forearm on Jan. 30, 1918 at the No. 16 Canadian General Hospital in Orpington, Kent on the southeastern outskirts of London. The hospital’s war diary records he was one of 12 deaths that month out of 2,250 patients at the main and auxiliary hospital.

Herbert Smith was buried at the nearby All Saints Churchyard Cemetery Extension located on Ramsden Road across from the main cemetery. The extension holds 88 of 182 Canadian First World War dead buried at All Saints. His name is recorded in the Book of Remembrance in Ottawa, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, the Veterans Affairs Virtual Memorial website, on the Wawanesa War Memorial erected in 1920, and in the list of Masonic War Dead from the Twentieth Century for members of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario.

by Bob Stewart

grave marker photo: Mark Hornsby on

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