49714 PRIVATE ALFRED JOHN SMYTH
14th Bn Durham Light Infantry
Interred in Philosophe British Cemetery, Mazingarbe. Plot 1, Row M, Grave 36.
The 14th battalion of the Durham Light Infantry was formed at Newcastle in September 1914 and began their training at Aylesbury. They then moved to Halton Park in October, and were in billets at High Wycombe from then until April, when they returned to Halton Park. In July 1915 they moved to Witley and landed at Boulogne on 11th September of that year. Alfred is buried in Philosophe British Cemetery, close to the town of Mazingarbe, that infamous place where so many innocent, young British soldiers were shot for desertion by their own side. They were ordered to be executed as an example to others by men to whom a human life meant nothing. Alfred John Smyth was born in Rasharkin, about five miles south of Ballymoney, the son of Thomas and Margretta Smyth. He had been living in England for some considerable time and was married to Edith Negus of Bognor, Sussex. The 14th bat- talion were taken to the region around Ypres and by December were at Wieltje. At this particular point No Man's Land was about 300 yards wide and on Sunday morning, the 19th of December 1915, the enemy started a gas attack. The British replied with shell-fire and this succeeded in keeping the enemy in his trenches. The gas drifted across but by the time it reached the British trenches it had dissipated and did not cause any casualties. There were many attacks of this type over the next few months but Alfred came through it all. His battalion were then moved south, to the area around Vermelles and the other small villages north of Lens. It was here that Alfred was killed close to Mazingarbe on the 6th of March 1917. The family worshipped in Finvoy Presbyterian Church and it is there that Alfred is commem- orated. The Roll of Honour is just inside the door of the church.