109607 RSM Donald Oscar Smith was born on the 14th of June, 1884, in the small English market town of Wymondham, Norfolk. His father, George William Gates Smith (1850-1927), was a watchmaker married to Mary Ann Woodcock (1850-1931). Donald was their seventh child and fifth son. Eventually their children would number fourteen.

By 1901 Donald was a drummer boy in the Norfolk 9th Regiment of Foot, the 'Holy Boys' (so called because in an earlier conflict, the depiction of Britannia on their badges had been mistaken by Spanish troops as the Virgin Mary). The Norfolk 9th Regiment of Foot was later incorporated into the Royal Norfolk Regiment.

Donald was stationed in Colchester at the time of the 1901 Census and subsequently took part in the Second Boer War, where, interestingly, the CMRs also fought alongside his regiment. This may have been his first contact with Canadians. Indeed, sometime between 1910 and 1915, Donald married for the first time and went to Canada, but by the time he signed his Attestation papers in Toronto for the Canadian Expeditionary Force he was a widower. He described his occupation as (farmer).

Serving in the 4th CMR's first in-field operation from 24th October 1915, as Regimental Sergeant-Major, Donald seems to have been one of the more fortunate ones at Mount Sorrel, avoiding major injuries in what was a dark day for the 4th CMR, on June 2nd, 1916.

During 1917 Donald married Nellie Hilder (photo, right), from Hastings, England, and they had their first son, Donald Jack, later that year.

After the Great War ended the family returned to Ontario and two further children were born: Mabel Doreen (1920) and Ronald George (1923).

Donald Jack Smith fought in the Second World War as a Canloan officer (Lieutenant) in his father's old regiment, the Royal Norfolk. Alas, he was killed shortly after the D-Day landings in Normandy and lies buried in France.

Donald Oscar Smith died in Ontario, in 1959, aged 75, He was my great uncle and although we never met, I was fortunate enough to meet my great aunt Nell, when she visited her sister, my grandmother, in England in 1962. She died a year later. May they all rest in peace: individually they sacrificed a great deal.

Anne Green

Pictures and biography credit: Anne Green