Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Herbert Francis Smith

Herbert Francis Smith : Photograph of Herbert in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.  Reference:  MRP/5F/027

Photograph of Herbert in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MRP/5F/027

Herbert Francis Smith : (L to R) 1939-45 Star; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

(L to R) 1939-45 Star; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

Herbert was born on the 7th July 1905 in Liverpool. He was named after his father, but we don't know anything else about his early life or family.

On the 12th June 1922, Herbert left his job as an assistant tailor and joined the Manchester Regiment. He seems to have lied about his age, and told them he was 18 years and 2 months old.

Herbert was given the service number 3517932. We don't know anything about his service until the 24th January 1927, when he was based at the Regimental Depot at Ladysmith Barracks in Ashton-under-Lyne. On this day he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

On the 23rd April Herbert married Jessie Tapley at St James' Church in Ashton. She was 6 years older than him. They both lived on Wimpole Street in Ashton when they married. Herbert lived at number 17 and Jessie was at number 18. Both their fathers worked as carters.

Between the 7th and the 16th December 1927 Herbert attended the 37th Course at the School of Education in Shorncliffe, Kent. He obtained the 1st Class Army Certificate of Education.

Herbert and Jessie had twins between October and December 1928. Their names were George H. and Mary A.

By early 1930 Herbert held the rank of Corporal. He was promoted again to Lance Sergeant on the 4th March.

In February 1932 Herbert left the Depot and the UK. He was posted to the 2nd Battalion at Secunderabad in India. He joined B Company as a Corporal. Jessie and the children did not go with him; we know this because their son Peter was born in Ashton on the 13th September.

The 2nd Battalion moved to Khartoum in Sudan during October 1932, and returned to the UK on the 13th December 1933. They were then stationed in Strensall in Yorkshire until 1938. Between the 1st November and the 21st December 1935 Herbert attended a course at the Small Arms School in Netheravon, Wiltshire.

Herbert and Jessie's 4th child, Maureen G. was born between April and June 1936 in Stockport. Herbert was promoted to Sergeant on the 16th July 1937. He was still a member of B Company at this time.

The 2nd Battalion moved to Aldershot in Hampshire in March 1938. They were still here when the Second World War broke out on the 3rd September 1939. After a busy period of training and equipping they sailed to France on the 22nd September. We can't say for certain whether Herbert went with them.

We don't know anything about Herbert's service during the war. He was discharged on the 21st August 1944 after 'ceasing to fulfil Army physical requirements'.

Herbert was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal to recognise 18 years of service. This cannot have occurred before the middle of 1940. When he received the medal he held the rank of Warrant Officer Class II. Herbert's job in this rank was Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.

By 1951 Herbert lived at 14 Hurst Hall Drive in Ashton. He fell seriously ill at the beginning of this year though. The Manchester Regiment Gazette reported that he was being treated in Ward 3 of Belmont Hospital in Sutton, Surrey at the beginning of the year. He was later transferred to A4 Ward of the Metropolitan Hospital in Hackney, London. Later that year, his old comrades congratulated him on his recovery.

Herbert's life after this remains a mystery. Jessie died in Tameside, which includes Ashton, in April 1989. She was 91. Herbert was 87 when he died in August 1992. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment later that month.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Tameside Metropolitan Borough logo
Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund logo
Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council