Edward Smith

Edward Smith
Edward Smith

Edward Benn (‘Ned’) Smith VC, DCM (10 November 1898 – 12 January 1940) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

World War I

Distinguished Conduct Medal

On 10 August 1918, then a Corporal with the 1/5th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, Smith was leading a daylight patrol near Hébuterne in the Somme Area of France to examine points in the German lines where information was required. As the patrol was about to retire, he saw a party of about 40 Germans about to take up outpost duty. Despite being heavily outnumbered by the German soldiers, Smith led his small party of men and engaged the enemy, breaking up the German party and causing severe casualties. As well as receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal for this action, he was promoted to the rank of Lance Sergeant.

Victoria Cross

Eleven days later, during the period 21/23 August 1918, east of Serre, France, Smith while in command of a platoon, took a machine-gun post at The Lozenge (Hill 140), rushing the garrison with his rifle and bayonet. The enemy on seeing him coming, scattered to throw hand grenades at him, but heedless of all danger and almost without halting in his rush, he shot at least six of them. Later, seeing another platoon needing assistance, he led his men to them, took command and captured the objective. During an enemy counter-attack the following day he led a section forward and restored a portion of the line. According to the London Gazette Supplement of 18 October 1918, “His personal bravery, skill and initiative were outstanding, and his conduct throughout an inspiring example to all.”


According to The Whitehaven News, a local West Cumbrian newspaper, when he returned to his home town of Maryport after the war in 1919, he was greeted by a cheering crowd of 6,000 people.

Another local newspaper described Smith in the following terms:

“Sergeant Smith is not only a VC but looks it. He is a British soldier every inch of him. He is an A1 man from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. … He has not only won the VC but he has a chest on which to display it.”

He continued serving, from 1918 to 1938, in China, Malaya and Ireland, before retiring with an Army pension having attained the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major.

World War II

As war loomed in summer 1939, he re-enlisted with his former Regiment, the Lancashire Fusiliers.

He was a Lieutenant and quartermaster when he died in France from a gunshot wound in the head on 12 January 1940, just under four months before the start of the Battle of France in May.

Smith is buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery of Beuvry Communal Cemetery Extension.

4 thoughts on “Edward Smith

  1. Too right. My Grancher was in Burma. My Dad told me of the nights back when he would scream and shout in his sleep. Post Malaria symptoms too. Good luck with Brentford today. All the best Stuart.

  2. I agree, the ages really do stand out. It was such a different world then, I think a 20 year old then would be completely different to a 20 year old now.

  3. When I read your posts the actions of their brave interventions speak of amazing maturity. Then a penny simply dropped. It’s the age of the soldiers. What they did at the age they were was admirable. This soldier born in 1898 and performing these actions at 20 years old. It’s what really hits home at times. The whole historical to current scenarios of youth involved in war is heartbreaking to be honest. All the best.

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