b. 17/01/1878 Romsey, Hampshire. d. 14/12/1927 Alassio, Italy.
Clement Leslie Smith (1878-1927) was born on 17th January 1878 in Romsey, Hampshire, the son of the Reverend Canon Clement Smith, MVO, MA, who was the local Rector, and Chaplain in Ordinary to the King, and of Mary Eliza, daughter of Stephen Spurling.
He was gazetted to the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, from the Volunteers, on 5th May 1900, and served on the Staff in the South African War in 1901 and 1902, receiving the Queen’s South Africa Medal and five clasps. On 9th August 1902, he was promoted to Lieutenant.
He was then posted to Somaliland, where he served from 1903 to 1904, being on the Staff as a Special Service Officer, and was present at the action at Jidballi. He was mentioned in despatches, received the Medal with two clasps, and was awarded the Victoria Cross (London Gazette, 7th June 1904).
On 10th January 1904 at the commencement of the fight at Jidballi, British Somaliland, Lieutenant Smith and a medical officer (Lieutenant Welland) tried to rescue a hospital assistant (Rahamat Ali) who was wounded. The rapidity of the enemy’s fire, however, made this impossible and the hospital assistant was killed. Lieutenant Smith then did all that was possible to bring out the medical officer, helping him to mount a horse and, when this was shot, a mule. This animal also was shot and the medical officer was killed, but the lieutenant stayed with him to the end, trying to keep off the enemy with his revolver.
Smith received his medal from King Edward VII on 5th July 1904. He was then appointed to the Egyptian Army in 1905. He then served in the Sudan in 1910 and received the Medal and clasp. He was promoted to Captain in 1916. He served from the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, being with the Egyptian Army from November 1915 to January 1916, being promoted to Major later that month. He had then transferred into the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. During operations against Jebel Miri in the Sudan, he was awarded the Military Cross.
He became a Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel in April 1916, and in December was appointed to command the Imperial Camel Brigade, with the rank of Temporary Brigadier-General. He was then transferred to command the 24th Infantry Brigade, 10th Division following the disbandment of the Imperial Camel Brigade in June 1918. In June 1919, he was given the brevet of Colonel.
Following his war service, he left the Army and retired to Italy, where he died suddenly aged 49 on 14th December 1927 in Alassio. He was buried in the Campo Inglese (English Cemetery), Alassio, and his medals are held by the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry Museum, Bodmin, Cornwall.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: DUKE OF CORNWALL RGT MUSEUM, BODMIN, CORNWALL.
BURIAL PLACE: ENGLISH CEMETERY, ALASSIO, ITALY.
Malcolm and Wendy McVittie – Images of the Clement Smith VC MC Portrait, and the miniature medal group.