King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918

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Smith, Roger

Second Lieutenant ▪ 9th Battalion, South Wales Borderers

Roger Smith, born on 19th January 1891, was admitted to King Edward’s School in January 1903 and was awarded a Scholarship in 1905. He lived with his father, Thomas, a commercial clerk who died whilst Roger was at School, his mother, Ruth, and his younger brother, Geoffrey, at 2, Grove Crescent, West Bromwich. Geoffrey was also an Old Edwardian, serving and dying for his country in the war.

Although Roger performed slightly below average in his final year, he had seen academic success earlier in his School career, winning the proxime (second) prize in his penultimate year. The death of his father in 1905 may have had a significant impact on his performance at School. He was on the starting line-up of the 1st XV rugby team in 1908, described as “a heavy and hardworking forward, who takes a lot of stopping”.

The 1911 Census tells us that Roger became an auctioneer’s apprentice, and his obituary in the Birmingham Weekly Post shows that he worked in the Land Valuation Department of the Government in the Shrewsbury and Tenbury district.

On the outbreak of war, Roger joined the Army Service Corps, where he served until he obtained his commission as a Lieutenant-Corporal in 1915. He spent only 10 days in France before transferring to the 9th Battalion, South Wales Borderers as a Second Lieutenant. The battalion was attached to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and Roger served with them in Mesopotamia, where he was killed on 25th January 1917, only a few weeks after his brother had died of his wounds in France. He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial which was originally sited in Shatt-al-Arab, but in 1997, by order of Saddam Hussein, the Memorial was relocated to its present desert location at Nasiriyah. Roger left his estate of £996 to his mother.