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Captain Eric Butler Smallwood M.C.


Essex Farm Cemetery Grave II.S.22

1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment, 118th Infantry Brigade, 39th Division

Age 21

KIA 7.1.17

Eric was the second son of Edward Smallwood, Liberal MP for East Islington October 1917 to November 1918 having won a by-election following the death of the sitting Liberal MP Sir George Radford. he lost his seat in the 1918 General Election. He married Mildred (nee Fenemore) in 1887 and they lived at 30 Lordship Park, Stoke Newington, London. They had two sons and a daughter. He was a successful coal merchant and was the first President of the Coal Merchant’s Federation of Great Britain from 1918 to 1921 as well as Chairman of the Society of Coal Merchants, London in 1931.  

 

Early Life

Eric was born on 8 January 1895. He enlisted in November 1914 as a private with the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps, London Regiment No.2999. He went to France on 18 September 1915 as a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion Hertfordshire Regiment and saw action at the Battle of Loos and then the Somme and in November 1916 he was promoted Captain and made a company commander. On the 4 January 1917 the War Diary recorded the award of the Military Cross to Eric for his action on 13 December 1916. His brother James had been awarded his M.C. just three days earlier.


War Diary recording the award of the MC

His Death

On the 7 January 1917 the Battalion was in the line at Hill Top Farm section.


Linesman Map and the trench lines at Hill Top Farm

At 2.24am the Germans launched a raid on their lines under a heavy barrage. They captured three men and Eric was killed in defending the position and ‘while superintending measures for the safety of his men.


War Diary recording the German raid and the prisoners taken

His father was to receive notification of Eric’s death on the day that he was celebrating the award of his son’s Military Cross. His brother Lieutenant James Smallwood MC serving with the 11th Battalion Middlesex Regiment was killed in action on 22 May 1917 and is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery. His MC was gazetted on 17 July 1917.

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