Smith Downsborough (1884-1918)

This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.


Smith Downsborough (sometimes spelt "Downsbrough") was born in Manor Street, Halifax on 27 December 1884. Joseph and Rosina Downsborough had seven children who grew in to adulthood: Smith, Amelia (born in 1882), Herbert (1883), William Henry (1886), Elsie (1899), Leonard (1890) and Ewart born in 1898. In addition, two children died in infancy: Hannah in 1884, aged two, and Dennis in 1893 when only a few months old.

Four of the children, Amelia, Herbert, William and Leonard were born deaf. In 1901 William and Leonard, were in the Yorkshire Institute for the Deaf and Dumb in Doncaster.

Rosina's parents, Joseph and Elizabeth Smith, brought the family to Halifax from Norwich where Joseph had been a handloom weaver sometime in the 1860s. By 1881, when she married Joseph Downsborough, they were living in Ovenden and she and Joseph lived with them until they moved to Lindley before the birth of William in 1886. Joseph was described as a "Silk Weaver".

The family were living in 131 Wellington Street from at least 1891 and were still there in 1911. Number 131 was a three-room back-to-back so must have at times been very crowded but not unusually so by the standards early 20th Century Lindley. Smith attended Oakes Council School. A period of sickness in 1892 meant Joseph could not work and had to seek Poor Relief for the family.

When Joseph died in 1901 at the age of 48, Rosina, widowed, found employment as a weaver. However, "insufficiency of income" meant she was forced to seek out-relief; she had received only three shillings by September 1901.

Herbert was working as a boot maker and Smith as an "Engine Turner" or fitter. Amelia was not working and was said to be "Deaf and Dumb". Herbert was also disabled in the same way, but worked as a boot repairer. Ten years later, Smith was working as a "Traction Engine Driver", probably by then for Huddersfield Corporation, and Elsie a "Worsted Twister". By 1911 they had been in Wellington Street for over twenty years.

During this period the family received financial help from the local Poor Law Union with respect to the disabled children.

William and Leonard were not with the family in 1911. They were living at the Asylum for the Blind Home and Workshops[1], in Hardman Street, Liverpool where they worked as "Chair Setters". By 1913 they were back home and received poor relief on account of their disabilities.

No Service Record survives for Smith but he seems to have joined the 1st Cavalry ammunition supply troop, which soon became the Army Service Corps on 12 August 1914, which is very early in the war, and transferred to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment later. The Battalion had been in France from May 1915 until November 1917 when it was transferred to Italy. On 11 September 1918 it was moved back to France, arriving on the 19th, to become part of the 25th division.

Smith may have served with the battalion throughout its travels. Wounded in the abdomen near Beaurevoir, he died on 17 October 1918 at the No 58 Casualty Clearing Station, less than a month before the War ended. Smith must have been one of the longest serving, non-regular soldiers.

Smith Downsborough is buried in the British cemetery in Tincourt, on the Somme, and remembered in St. Stephen’s church and on the family stone in the graveyard of Salendine Nook Baptist Chapel, where name is spelt "Downsbrough", and on the chapel Roll of Honour.

Smith is also remembered on the memorial in Oakes Baptist Chapel, just yards from where he lived in Wellington Street, and on the memorial in Huddersfield Town Hall.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

DOWNSBOROUGH, SMITH. Private. No 33664. 1/8th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Formerly No 22227 Army Service Corps. Born Manor Street, Halifax, 27.12.1884. Son of Rosina Downsborough, 131 Wellington Street, Oakes, Huddersfield. Educated Oakes Council School. Employed as a steam roller driver by the Huddersfield Corporation. Single. Enlisted 6.8.1914. Suffered serious abdominal wounds at Beaurevoir, 6.10.1918, and died of his wounds at No 58 (West Riding) Casualty Clearing Station on 17.10.1918, aged 33 years. Buried TINCOURT NEW BRITISH CEMETERY. Grave location:- Plot 6, Row F, Grave 43.
ROH:- Oakes Baptist Church; St. Stephen's Church, Lindley; Huddersfield Corporation Roll; commemorated in Salendine Nook Baptist Chapel yard, F214.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission



Notes and References