John Noel Smale, L/Cpl 9708, 1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment
Died of wounds 27th May 1915, aged 38
John Noel Smale was born in 1877 at Macclesfield, the son of Sarah Alice and John Smale, a silk manufacturer of ‘The Brooklands’, Oxford Road, Macclesfield.
In 1881, 3 year old John was living at this address with his parents and siblings Charlotte Mary (20), Clara (17), Florence Edith (5) and Ronald Jules (1), and a servant and nurse for the children. By 1891, the family had increased to include older brothers Josiah (26, a silk manufacturer) and Harry (24, a solicitor), and youngsters Oswald (9), George (4) and Walter (10 months), plus a cook, two servants and a nurse. John is recorded as having been educated at Rugby School from 1890 until 1894, when he had to leave due to a serious illness.
John’s father died on 2nd April 1910 and is buried in Macclesfield Cemetery.
John served in the South Africa campaign and most likely was in South Africa at the time of the 1901 census. He served as Trooper 1031 with the Colonial Light Horse, and Lance Corporal 1298 with the 13th Imperial Yeomanry Company (Shropshire). He was awarded the Queen’s South Africa medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State and Transvaal, and the King’s South Africa medal with clasps for South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902.
In 1911, John was boarding with the Mercer family in Tonbridge, Kent, but later lived with his widowed mother at “The Limes”, Leigh, Tonbridge, where she herself was living in 1911 with her youngest son, Walter, who was an Oxford undergraduate. This property can be seen on the website of the Leigh Historical Society.
John attested at Hammersmith, Middlesex in 1914, giving his home address as Tonbridge, Kent.
He was drafted to France with the British Expeditionary Force on 17th December 1914 and was severely wounded, in both legs, at Hill 60 on 17th May 1915. John died of those wounds at Wimereux on 27th May 1915, aged 38 years.
L/Cpl John Smale is buried in grave ref. II. A. 86. of the Wimereux Communal Cemetery in France. His mother requested that a cross and the following words should be added to his headstone:
“A PATRIOT WHO ENLISTED IMMEDIATELY THE AGE LIMIT WAS WITHDRAWN”
John is the uncle of Leslie Crozier Smale, who served with the Shropshire Light Infantry and was killed in action at Ypres in September 1915.