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Luke Robson Smailes

Alnwick and County Gazette, June 30th, 1917.

Borden Dairy war memorial in Toronto, Canada
Borden Dairy war memorial in Toronto.

Private Luke Robson Smailes  of the Canadian Infantry, Central Ontario Regiment 75th Bn. Service No. 669664, died of his wounds in France on June 10th 1917, aged 29.

He is buried at the Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. As well as being remembered on the Craster war memorials in the Chapel and in St Peter's church, he is remembered on the Borden Company war memorial in Toronto, Canada.

Luke was born on September 12th 1887. He was the son of Robert and Jane Smailes of 18, South Craster. His father was a labourer in the Craster quarry owned by McLaren and Prowde. In 1911 three of the four surviving children were at home for the census: Mary, then aged 26, Luke Robson, 23 and Robert ,19.

Luke's brother Robert  and cousin, John William Smailes were also killed in the war.

The 1911 census returns shows that Luke was a motor driver. An additional note on the return says, 'engine carries stone to station.' This suggests that Luke worked at the quarry.

Luke emigrated to Canada on August 30th 1912. He is listed as a passenger on the S.S. Victorian of the Allen Line, leaving from Liverpool and travelling to Quebec & Montreal on that date. A note on the document said that his Country of Future Intended Permanent  Residence was Canada and he was described as a labourer.

SS Victorian

In Toronto he worked as a milkman for Borden Co. Ltd at the City Dairy in Toronto. The same company employed his brother Robert and cousin John William Smailes. His 'joining up' papers, known formally as an Attestation Paper was approved on March 29th 1916 in Toronto. He enlisted in the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force. This document included the information that Luke was still single and that he was a Methodist. His address was given as 78 Marchmount Road, Toronto.

The following items appeared in the Toronto Star on June 14th and 19th, 1917:

Toronto Star June 14th & 19th, 1917

On June 22nd, 1917,the Toronto Star reported:

Toronto Star, June 22nd, 1917, 1917

An article in the Alnwick and County Gazette on June 30th 1917 reported his death.

Alnwick and County GAzette June 30th, 1917

The newspaper carried the following in the Roll of Honour in the same edition:

Alnwick and County Gazette June 30th, 1917

Longuenesse is a small township a short distance from St Omer

Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery

Luke's gravestone in Longuenesse Cemetery, May 2011

The inscription reads:

669664 PRIVATE
10th JUNE 1917 AGED 29

Longuenesse Cemetery, Luke's graveston is third from the right.

Longueness Souvenir Cemetery, Luke's gravestone is third from the right. The graves at the top of the picture, across the grass are those of German soldiers.

St Omer was the headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force and a major medical centre, treating casualties from far afield. However, the War Diary of the 75th Battalion indicates that in April, May and June the Battalion, part of the Canadian's 4th Division, was engaged in the fighting on the northern sector on Vimy Ridge.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Luke Robson Smailes

Veterans' Affairs Canada - Luke Robson Smailes

Library and Archives, Canada - Luke Robson Smailes

Passenger List of the SS Victorian

Luke Smailes Attestation Paper - Front

Luke Smailes Attestation Paper - Back

75th Battalion War Diary

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