Search for family of heroic Burnley stretcher-bearer

Pte Henry Smith
Pte Henry Smith
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Burnley Council is hoping to trace relatives of a heroic First World War stretcher-bearer whose bravery will be remembered during a civic ceremony later this month.

Pte Henry Smith was awarded the Military Medal and Bar after, acting as a stretcher bearer, he repeatedly carried wounded comrades to safety over open ground under constant enemy machinegun fire. Just five weeks later – on April 24th 1918 – he was killed in action in France.

Now, 100 years after Pte Smith’s death, his Military Medal and other honours and memorabilia will take pride of place in a display cabinet at Burnley Town Hall, following a short civic ceremony. The items have been gifted to the council by military memorabilia collector Victor Freeman, who will travel from his home in Plymouth to be at the event.

Organisers have tried to discover relatives of Pte Smith but with no success.

“We would be honoured to have members of Private Smith’s family as guests at the unveiling ceremony,” said the Mayor of Burnley Coun. Howard Baker. “Unfortunately our efforts to trace any relatives have been unsuccessful.

“If any family members read this, or anyone who knows where they are, I’d ask them to contact Mike Waite at the town hall. It would be wonderful to have members of the family there to see their relative’s memory honoured.”

Mr Waite can be contact either by email mwaite@burnley.gov.uk or by calling 01282 477198.

Pte Smith was a well-known Towneley miner before he enlisted in the Army in 1908. He was serving in Africa with the 2nd East Lancashire Regiment when war was declared and in November 1914 he was drafted to France where he served until his death.

At that time his home address was 27 Richard Street, Burnley, and he had connections with St Mary’s RC school and church. It appears he had a brother, James, and a sister.

Pte Smith is remembered with honour at Adelaide Cemetery, Villers-Bretonneux.