Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Jacob Smith

Jacob Smith :

Jacob Smith : Allied Victory Medal

Allied Victory Medal

Jacob was born on the 18th March 1881 in Royton, part of Oldham in Lancashire. He was baptised at the Parish Church on the 3rd August. His father was called Butterworth Smith and his mother was Mary Hannah. He had 2 older brothers; Thomas and Henry, and one younger; John Gartside. The family had lost one other child before 1911; we don't know their name.

Butterworth worked as a carrier, responsible for moving goods from place to place. In 1891 the family lived at Wheatfield House on Wheatfield Street in Royton. Ten years later in 1901 they had moved to 162 Middleton Road in the town. Jacob had begun to work as a cotton warehouseman.

On the 9th August 1904 Jacob married Agnes Crook at Royton Parish Church. He was now working as a carrier, just like his father. His parents had returned to live at Wheatfield House.

Butterworth died on the 6th February 1906. In 1911 Mary lived with John at 19 North Street.

In this year Agnes and Jacob lived at 96 Middleton Road. This was next door to Agnes' parents, James William and Ellen.

Agnes and Jacob had had 2 children since their wedding. Their daughter Doris was born in around 1908. Sadly their other child had died. We don't know whether they had any more children.

Agnes was a cotton weaver, and Jacob still worked as a carrier. We know that he was a 'trucker out in the warehouse at the Grape Mill, Royton' before he joined the Army, but we don't know how long he had held this job.

The First World War broke out in August 1914. Jacob joined the Army in around March 1917. By this time Jacob had moved to 121 Middleton Road. It is likely that he was conscripted rather than being able to volunteer. He was assigned to the Manchester Regiment and given the service number 49919.

Jacob was sent overseas to the Western Front in France and Belgium in around June 1917. We don't know which battalion of the Manchester Regiment he joined, so we can't say for certain where he served.

On the 21st March the Germans launched a major offensive aimed at defeating the Allies before large number of American soldiers could enter the war against them. At first this was extremely successful. Thousands of British soldiers were killed or captured, and the rest were forced to retreat. The offensive was brought to a halt during April and May.

By this time Jacob was a Prisoner of War (POW). We don't know where or when he was captured. An article was published in the Oldham Evening Chronicle newspaper on the 27th April reporting that Agnes 'has been officially informed' that Jacob was a POW, so it must have been several weeks before this.

We don't know where in Germany Jacob was held. Prisoners were generally treated well although they were often required to work in exhausting jobs such as quarrying or mining. Combined with a poor diet this left them vulnerable to outbreaks of disease. Around 12,000 of the 300,000 British and Commonwealth POWs died.

Jacob appears to have survived the war. POWs were released soon after the end of the war on the 11th November 1918. His life after he returned to the UK remains a mystery.

Jacob's medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in August 2000. As well as his Allied Victory Medal; Jacob was also awarded the British War Medal for his Army service.

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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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council