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37889 Private Spencer Allan Knight Smith – Otago Infantry Regiment

Spence Allan Knight Smith was born in Fielding on 27th June 1889[i] the only son of Mary (nee Knight) and Edward Smith.[ii]

Spencer was raised in the Fielding area and trained as a motor mechanic. Spencer volunteered for the 22nd Reinforcements requesting to be posted to the Engineers. Spencer, a single man also requested that he was not call up until August 1916.

Spencer Allan Knight Smith married Katherine (Kitty) Sarah Thompson on 19th July 1916. Kitty was the daughter of
Fairfield Thompson an early settler of the Manchester Settlement, Fielding.  The couple set up home in Kimbolton Road, Fielding but when Spencer left for overseas service,  Kitty moved to her father’s home “Timona” Plimmerton.[iii]

37889 Private Spencer Allan Knight Smith entered Trentham Military Camp on 16th October 1916 as part of F Company, 22nd Reinforcements. Also entering camp with the 22nd Reinforcements was Spencer's brother in law, Fairfield Thompson. Private Smith completed basic training and left for overseas service on 13th February 1917 arriving in Sling Military
Training Camp on 2nd May 1917. Rather than posted to the Engineers Private Smith was posted on 2nd May 1917 to
B company, Reserve Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment. Training at Sling was short as a month later Private Smith was posted to France. Private Smith joined 10th Company, 2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment (OIR), In the Field on 26th June 1917. The Otago Infantry Regiment was resting and refitting after the success of the Battle of Messines.

The NZ Division was then moved into the La Basse-Ville Sector and on 31st July 1917 managed to capture the village.
The 2nd Battalion, OIR was in forward positions in early August 1917 and was subject to heavy shelling on the
4th August 1917 as reported in the Official History of the Otago Regiment:

                                                                      “On the 4th the enemy was as aggressive as ever. At 2.30 p.m. a party of 30 of
                                                                      the enemy was observed to leave a building at the south-western corner of                                                                                        Warneton, but no action developed. A few minutes later, however, an
                                                                      advanced group of our left Company, holding a post across the Warneton
                                                                      railway line, was blown out, all excepting two of the garrison being casualties.
                                                                      The enemy's artillery now remained quiescent until 10 p.m., when a heavy                                                                                        bombardment of our posts commenced and lasted for an hour, accompanied
                                                                      by a gas-shell bombardment of St. Yves, Prowse Point, and Ploegsteert Wood. The                                                                            casualties for the day were one killed, one missing, and 14  wounded.”


                                                                      NZ causua;ty moved from Ploegsteer Wood 1917 

Private Smith is listed as wounded in action with a Gunshot Wound (GSW) to the head on 4th August 1917.
Private Smith was treated by No 3 NZ Field Ambulance taking him to 2nd Australian Casualty Clearing Station (CCS)
where he died of his wounds on 5th August 1917.

37889 Private Spencer Allan Knight Smith is buried in the Trois Arbres Cemetery,
Steenwork Nord, France.

Kitty Smith and the Thompson family later receive news that her older brother
39499 Rifleman Fairfield Thompson, NZ Rifle Brigade, who had enlisted with her husband
in the 22nd Reinforcements, died of his wounds on 7th October 1917[iv] near
Passchendaele and brother 41907 Private William Robert Thompson, Auckland Infantry
Regiment[v]  had been wounded.

Kitty received her husband’s commemorative plaque in 1922 and his medals on
9th January  1923, delivered to Timona, Plimmerton. A month later on 7th February 1923
Katherine Sarah Thompson married Charles Henry Sellars Deal.

Notes
Fairfield Thompson snr had five sons and two Son-In-Laws serve in the NZEF  
(see Fairfield Thompson story) two other sons volunteered but did not leave New Zealand.
‘Timona’  is a name used by Fairfield Thompson in Plimmerton and is also used as a park name
on Kimbolton Road, Fielding.
 
References
NZ BDM
Paperspast Online
Official History of the Otago Regiment, N.Z.E.F. in the Great War 1914 – 18
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files

Photos
Trois Arbres Grave: NZ War Graves Project
NZ Wounded from Ploegsteer Wood 1917: Royal RSA collection National Library 
Zonebeke Blegium landscape -  George Edmond Butler: National Library


[i]    Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 37889 Private Spencer Allan Knight Smith
[ii]   Roll of Honour, 15th August 1917, Fielding Star
[iii]  Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 37889 Private Spencer Allan Knight Smith
[iv]  Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 39499 Rifleman Fairfield Thompson 
[v]   Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 41907 Private William Robert Thompson
Zonebeke Belgium landscape 1917