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Posted: 01.08.17

Christ College Remembers…Captain Charles Owen Spencer Smith

REMEMBRANCE DISPATCH NO. 35 COMMEMORATES CAPTAIN CHARLES OWEN SPENCER SMITH (HOSTEL 1893-1898) WHO WAS KILLED IN ACTION ON 3RD AUGUST 1917.

Charles Owen Spencer Smith, born in 1880 in Norwich, was the oldest of the six children (four boys and two girls) of Charles, the secretary receiver of five endowed schools, and Charlotte Owen Spencer Smith. He joined the Hostel in 1893 and stayed at Christ College until 1898. Two of his brothers were also ‘Hostelites’: Philip (1896-1901) and Martin (1904-1909).

Charles took part in musical entertainments while at school and, though “not physically strong”, he was a member of the Cadet Force and had been promoted to Lieutenant in the summer of 1898.
After leaving school he trained in Architecture but maintained his military connections. In December 1899 he obtained a commission as Second Lieutenant in the 13th Middlesex (Queen’s Westminster) Volunteer rifle Corps, later renamed the 16th Battalion London Regiment (Queen’s Westminster Rifles).
Having landed in France in November 1914 and having seen much intense fighting in the trenches, the Regiment took part in the attack on Gommecourt in July 1916 in which Phillip was taken Prisoner. Charles, now attached to the 21st Battalion King Royal Rifle Corps (Yeoman Rifles), was in action near the Belgium border when he died of wounds on 3rd August 1917.
Charles was the third of the sons to die. ‘His brother, Patrick (‘A.P’) had died of scurvy while attached to Shackleton’s trans-Antarctic expedition of 1914 to 1917. His youngest brother, Martin Spencer Smith, had been killed in action on 10th September 1916.
Captain Charles Owen Spencer Smith is buried in Godewaersvelde British Cemetery, France. He and his brother, Martin, are remembered on the Althorne War Memorial, Essex as well as on the Christ College War Memorial.

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