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Remembered Today:

Troop review Riverhead, Kent, May 1916


high wood
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This postcard is dated 23rd May 1916 and shows a march past of troops being reviewed by Sir John French and General Young.

The message on the back reads, This is an enlargement of a little photo we took from Paine's window at Riverhead at French's inspection. Weyast (sic) happened to get Norman at the salute. I thought you might like to have it; only wish it were clearer. Hope you are much better. Best love to you all. From Mollie. 4-6-15?

Postcard sent to Mrs Smithers, Howefield, Knockholt, Local.

Presumably Norman is one of the two mounted officers at the left of the photograph. Assuming that Norman is Norman Smithers he was a Captain in the Royal West Kent Regiment and later a Staff Captain.

Does anyone know what the occasion was? i.e. a final review before going over to France, a home service troops review, etc.

Sir John French had been commanding British Home Forces since December 1915.

Anything that you can tell me about this photograph, its sender or recipients would be appreciated.

Thank you.

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I can confirm a couple of things for you. Norman Smithers lived at Homefield, Knockholt, Kent (not Howefield).

He joined the 6 Bn in the Field in March 1917 and was with them for about a week before being moved to Brigade as a Staff Captain. Previously I think he would have served with 9th or 12th Battalions in Home service, although a small chanc ehe may have served at Depot/3rd Bttn.

A small piece about hom found here: http://www.kentfallen.com/PDF%20REPORTS/KNOCKHOLT%20LYCH%20GATE.pdf

Any chance of a close up of the three mounted officers - it may be possible to deduce which one is Smithers.

Regards,

Jonathan S

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Jonathan,

thank you for putting me right about the address. You can see how I misread it as the M in Smithers is very different from the M in Homefield. Thank you for pointing me in the direction of the extra information on the Kent Fallen site; much appreciated.

I have tried to enlarge the riders but at this level of pixillation the results are not good.

Does anyone know if the location is still recognisable today?

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I dont know this part of Kent I am afraid. It would be nice to think there would be someway of pinpointing the location.

Regarding Smithers - in 1915 he would be about 37/38. I dont know for sure, but something tells me he did not have pre-campaign service, so no medals. I wonder if he is the third of the horsemen - would there be any etiquette in regards of position, where the Staff Captain would ride? (Smithers had acted as Staff Captain in the UK before going to F&F in 1917).

Regards,

Jonathan S

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I think that he is one of the first two riders as it says that they "managed to get Norman at the salute".

My apologies!

Would there be a precedence as to who rode on the right and who rode on the left in relation to seniority?

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No apologies necessary.

The supplement to the London Gazette of the 1st January 1919 lists him as Captain. Norman Smithers, 4th Btn, Royal West Kent Regiment. T.F.

Presumably 3rd/4th Btn in 1916.

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No apologies necessary.

The supplement to the London Gazette of the 1st January 1919 lists him as Captain. Norman Smithers, 4th Btn, Royal West Kent Regiment. T.F.

Presumably 3rd/4th Btn in 1916.

'Tis possible he was 3/4th. I will have a further dig around and see what I can find but when I trawled through my records yesterday I could find no mention of him with any of the battalions. I then later found something to say that he had been a Staff Captain whilst in England and assumed this was why I could not locate him with any of the home battalions.

He would not be the first QORWK officer to be commissioned to one of their Territorial battalions that never spent anytime with the 4th (or 5 th), either first line, second, third etc. . I assume their commission in to the Territorials was for administrative purposes only.

Regards,

Jonathan S

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Does anyone know if the location is still recognisable today?

I'll have a go at the location as it's somewhere which I'm familiar with. Could it be Amherst Hill (A224) looking up from Worship Hill (A25)? I'll have a go at linking a google streetview although I've never done it before. http://maps.google.c...,132.13,,0,15.6

regards Stuart

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Stuart,

that is brilliant, clearly Amhurst Hill. The wall to the left is still in situ and it even still has the railings. The onlookers are standing on the wall of what is now the Riverhead village hall. But what really clinches it is the building in the middle back ground with the fancy ladder like paintwork between the first and second floor. Still there today and painted a pristine black and white. The high wall to the right has gone probably something to do with visibility round that busy corner. What really strikes me is just how much busier Riverhead is today with all the traffic.

Many thanks for posting the link.

Simon.

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I have found no trace of Smitehrs with any of the QORWK battalions prior to joining 6th Bn in the Field in March 1917. He was with the 6 Bn for about a week for an introduction to the Western Front before joining the Staff of 37 Brigade.

The only references I have found to his UK service prior to March 1917 are:

1) He had been employed in the UK as a Staff Officer (rising to T/Major) (date when this commenced is unknown).

2) In mid-1916 he was employed as a Rail Transport Officer (on Staff) but location is unknown.

Regards,

Jonathan S

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Stuart - absolutely superb work. Major pat on the back.

Simon and Jonathan, only too pleased I could help.

What's interesting is the battalion coming from the direction of Knole Park. I've copied & pasted this extract from the National Trust's website.

"During both Word Wars, areas of the park were used for military camps. But apart from the metalled roads built by the army and the bomb craters beside the golf course, which commemorate Knole's site astride 'Bomb Alley' between London and the Channel, there was little change."

Could the 3/4th have been based there at one time?

regards Stuart

P.S "Major Pat O'nback, did he not serve with one of the Irish Regiments :D "

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  • 1 month later...

high wood

- Major Norman Smithers who served on Kitchener’s staff was awarded the Military Cross. -

Source: “A History of Knockholt in the county of Kent” David Waldron Smithers.

The Riverhead WW1 War Memorial is next to the Village Hall

KentFallen last photograph.

Susan F.

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high wood

- Major Norman Smithers who served on Kitchener’s staff was awarded the Military Cross. -

Source: “A History of Knockholt in the county of Kent” David Waldron Smithers.

The Riverhead WW1 War Memorial is next to the Village Hall

KentFallen last photograph.

Susan F.

If I remember rightly it was a "gratitude" M.C.

The LG is here: http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/31092/supplements/30

Regards,

Jonathan S

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Just another snippet I came across in case your interested. Smithers most likely worked pre and post-war in the family firm of Akroyd & Smithers at 8 Moorgate and at the London Stock Exchange.

Regards,

Jonathan S

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Thank you, Jonathan. I will dig out my copy of the Stock Exchange War Menorial and see if it lists gallantry winners.

Simon.

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  • 8 years later...

- I have come across this post by accident as I am researching Kenneth Oswald Smithers ,my Great Uncle. I do believe that the postcard was written by my Grandmother - Mollie Smithers who lived in Knockholt. I recognise the writing!

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