Baxenden Lads: Smith JE

4th April 1918

PTE. 267436 JAMES EDWARD SMITH of the Monmouthshire Regiment died of wounds sustained on April 4th 1918 in heavy fighting around Arras in France. Before he enlisted James lived at 485 Manchester Road, Baxenden.

The Monmouthshire Regiment was a comparatively small one, and James served in a Pioneer Battalion. He was therefore one of the many thousands of men who toiled in the arduous and dangerous work of trench-digging, road construction and repair, bringing up war materials to the front-line, all this often under shellfire. When James died he was buried by his comrades in a temporary grave.

On March 21st 1918, in the area just south of Arras, the Germans launched a tremendous surprise attack which caused the British forces to retreat several miles. The German advance was finally stopped on April 4th – the day of James’ death.

Because of the utter confusion and destruction of the battlefield, James’ resting place was never found. He is therefore commemorated on the Arras Memorial. The Memorial is in a suburb of the town, and it is in the form of a cloister, built up on Doric columns. Inside the colonnade 35,395 names are inscribed on wall panels. These are the men who died in the Arras area in 1917 and 1918 and whose graves are not known. James’ name is listed with just 43 of his comrades.