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Remembered Today:

'Teddy' Watson-Smyth


stephen p nunn
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At this time of the year - Remembrance time, I think of 'Teddy' - Edward J. Watson-Smythe. I first came across his story when I was researching a book about the Tudor house; 'Edwin's Hall', in Woodham Ferrers, Essex. Teddy was the son of the owner and due to inherit.  However, he was KIA on the 27/8/1918, serving as a Captain in the Coldstream Guards. He was 21. Richard Holmes mentiones him in his wonderful book 'Tommy'. I have never seen a picture of 'Teddy'. Have any of you?

Thank you.

Stephen (Maldon).

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Some years back, Teddy's watch came up for sale - I missed it!

 

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Edited by stephen p nunn
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This is the house - 'Edwin's Hall'...

 

 

EDWINS HALL.jpg

Edited by stephen p nunn
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20 hours ago, stephen p nunn said:

 

 

TOMMY FRONT.jpg

EDWINS HALL.jpg

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Bringing the men back to life

Captain Watson-Smyth

            Trying to concentrate purely on Maldon hasn’t been an easy task for me and I have sometimes strayed beyond the old Borough boundary. Such diversions do, however, stimulate an understanding of what was going on in every town and village across the country. Some friends of ours own a really beautiful double-moated Tudor manor house just outside of the Maldon District, in old Woodham Ferrers. It is called Edwin’s Hall and from the 1820s the property was owned by the Watson-Smyth family. Sometime after 1916 it passed to Edward Jeffery Watson-Smyth, who succeeded his father, the late William Douglas Watson-Smyth. On the outbreak of war Winchester and Sandhurst educated, Jeffrey (born 27/10/1896) served as a captain in the 2nd Battalion, the Coldstream Guards and I managed to discover a contemporary account of a meeting with him. A fellow officer was introduced to him in the company mess just behind the front line in France. He wrote: “Teddy Watson-Smyth, as he was universally called, was a young-looking and intensely sociable man of middle height some two or three years older than myself. He was well off to the point of opulence and had extravagant tastes in food and dress…”. On the 27th August 1918, along with the 62nd (West Riding Division) the Guards were engaged in severe fighting to re-take Mory and St. Leger, in the area of the Somme. Casualties resulted, amongst them Captain Watson-Smyth, who was instantaneously killed by a shell while leading his company in the attack. He was just 21 years old. That little snippet about his appearance and character gives us so much more than the formal records and the brief details engraved on the stark white headstone in the Mory Street Military Cemetery. Suddenly ‘Teddy’ is alive and is with us again and not just during our visits to his old home, Edwin’s Hall.

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NOT FORGOTTEN

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No photo, but here’s his grave at Mory Street, and his memorial in Wadhurst 

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07035C4C-BA8A-4AB1-9D41-090170B9FE94.jpeg

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Thank you Michelle.

Best regards.

Stephen (Maldon).

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‘SECOND TO NONE’

Maldon’s Great War Guardsmen

 

by

Stephen P. Nunn

           

I have just finished reading the Great War memoires of a Coldstream Guards officer. C.P. Blacker, MC, GM (1895-1975) recalls his often traumatic experiences in; ‘Have You Forgotten Yet?’, published by Pen & Sword (2000). It is an extremely sensitively written book and represents one man’s plea for future generations to learn from the mistakes of the past. Old Etonian, Carlos Blacker, served as a Guards Captain from 1915 to 1919, initially with the 4th (Pioneers) Battalion and then, from June 1918, in the thick of things, with the 2nd Battalion. Considered by many to be the elite of the infantry of the regular army, the Guards was (and probably still is) full of larger than life characters – many of the officers were highly educated members of the upper class. Those officers took care to maintain extremely high standards of (pre-war) efficiency and led soldiers who were amongst the most feared by the enemy. I found Captain Blacker’s account both informative and very moving and was particularly excited when I discovered a number of local connections.

 

Friends of ours live in a really beautiful moated manor house called Edwin’s Hall, in nearby Woodham Ferrers. It was re-built in the 1570s and once served as the Summer Palace of the Archbishop of York. In the 1820s it passed to the Watson-Smyth family, who also owned Wadhurst Castle, in East Sussex. On the eve of the First War, William Douglas Watson-Smyth and his wife Ethel (née Renton) had the property. Their youngest son, Edward Jeffrey Watson-Smyth, succeeded to Edwin’s Hall, but was gazetted to the Coldstream Guards on the 17th February 1915 and first went to the front in the July of that year. He was invalided home in 1916 and re-joined his regiment in October 1917, serving as company commander of No. 1 Co., 2nd Battalion. Incredibly, Carlos Blacker tells us that he actually met him. It was on the 11th June 1918, in the company mess, just behind the front line. The description is very revealing indeed: “Teddy Watson-Smyth, as he was universally called”, says Blacker, “was a young-looking and intensely sociable man of middle height some two or three years older than myself. He was well off to the point of opulence and had extravagant tastes in food and dress…”. Apparently Teddy received regular parcels from Edwin’s Hall, which included such luxuries as; “...hams, tongues and foie gras, cakes and biscuits, assorted chocolates and other delicacies...”. But for all that wealth and influence, Teddy still suffered the same fate as so many others during the war to end all wars. On the 27th August 1918 the Guards were engaged in severe fighting to re-take Mory and St. Leger, in the area of the Somme. Many casualties resulted, amongst them Captain Watson-Smyth, instantaneously killed by a shell while leading his company in the attack. He was just 21 years old, but that little snippet about his appearance and character gives us so much more than the formal records and the brief details engraved on the stark white headstone in the Mory Street Military Cemetery where he lies today.

 

            Both Captains Blacker and Watson Smyth also knew another local man and someone of very senior rank indeed. Brigadier-General Claude Raul Champion de Crespigny (1878-1941) was officer commanding of the first Guards Brigade, which included the 2nd Battalion. The men knew him as “Crawley”, but probably not to his face! He was the son of Sir Claude Champion de Crespigny, Bart. (1847-1935), and the family home was ‘Champion Lodge’, (now ‘Totham Lodge’), Great Totham. Blacker describes him as; “much respected”, “a formidable amateur boxer”, “a powerful man of stocky cruiserweight build, handsome in a snub-nosed way and conveying an impression of fearlessness, masterfulness and pugnacity. A man of few words”. I have read similar descriptions of his father, Sir Claude.

 

            Not included in Carlos Blacker’s book, but of equal importantance, were three other Maldon men who served and made the ultimate sacrifice with the Guards. Lance Corporal Jethro Williams (6074) was with the 3rd Battalion and died in Boulogne on the 5th November 1914, aged 30. Private (7203) A.C. Foster was with the 1st and died in the Le Touret area on 25th January 1915, aged 36. And Private (14854) Stanley Thomas Woodyard, who was born, lived and enlisted at Maldon, was killed in action with that same 2nd Battalion in the Thiepval zone on 14th September 1916. Today, those brave men are amongst those listed on our town war memorial. And whenever we drive along Broad Street Green and pass by the gated, lodged entrance to Totham Lodge, I always think of the de Crespigny dynasty. But above all, during our visits to Edwin’s Hall, Teddy is somehow still alive there and with us. His name appears on the Woodham Ferrers war memorial and there is a brass plaque to him inside the parish church. His sister, Miss Wilemina, lived on at the Hall until she married in 1925, and his widowed step-mother, Annora, stayed until the beginning of the next conflict of 1939-45. His great-nephew once told me that Teddy left his fortune to his beloved regiment. He and the others mentioned in this brief account were clearly very proud to serve with the Guards – an elite band of brothers who lived and died clutching on to the spirit of their motto: ‘Nulli Secundus’. They truly were “Second to None”.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • stephen p nunn changed the title to 'Teddy' Watson-Smyth

Just been sent this.......here's Teddy!

Capt. E.J. Watson-Smyth (4).jpg

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His MIC indicates that he was entitled to the 15 Star trio. Anyone know of the current whereabouts of these (or his trench watch)?

Regards.

Stephen (Maldon).

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His memorial plaque was sold a few years back 

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I’ve checked and don’t have a better picture of him sorry 

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Thanks Coldstreamer - missed the plaque then.

S.

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