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Posted: 09.09.16

Christ College Remembers – Second Lieutenant Martin Spencer Smith

REMEMBRANCE DISPATCH No. 18 HAS BEEN POSTED IN HOUSES TO COMMEMORATE SECOND LIEUTENANT MARTIN SPENCER SMITH (HOSTEL 1904-1909) WHO WAS KILLED IN ACTION ON 10th SEPTEMBER 1916.

Martin Spencer Smith was the youngest of the four brothers and the last of three brothers to attend Christ College. He joined the Hostel at Easter 1904. A keen singer and actor, he was “put on the boards of King Henry’s Theatre, Christ College” and to great critical acclaim he played Josephine, the daughter of Captain Corcoran in HMS Pinafore in 1905.

He was also a talented athlete and sportsman, winning the Challenge Cup at the Athletic Sports in 1908, and playing for the Rugby Football XV, the Hockey XI and the Cricket XI.

After leaving Christ College he took up farming in Canada but when war was declared he joined the Canadian Forces, later transferring into the Queen’s Westminster Rifles to join his brothers.

He survived the attack on Gommecourt on 1st July 1916 but on 9th September 1916 at Bouleaux Wood the brigade was given orders to clear an enemy trench on the south east side of the wood before dawn. Fierce gun and shell fire resulted in Martin and four fellow officers, all second Lieutenants, being killed and 303 other ranks dead, wounded or missing. The Battalion Diary records “From start to finish we had, as it turned out, no chance”. Martin’s body was never recovered.

Second Lieutenant Martin Spencer Smith is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial and on the Althorne War Memorial, Essex as well as on the Christ College War Memorial.

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