Sergeant MURDO SMITH
Last address in Lewis: 18 Ballantrushal,
Son of Donald and Ann Macdonald Smith, of 18, Ballantrushal.
Service unit: D Coy 2nd Seaforth Highlanders
Service number: 3/7272
Enlisted at Stornoway
Date of death: 4 October 1917 at the age of 21
Killed in action at Ypres
Interred: Cement House Cemetery, grave XV. A. 4
Local memorial: North Lewis, Borve
Murdo appears in the 1901 census, the 5-year old son of Donald and
Ann (both aged 38) at 18 Ballantrushal. His siblings Charles (13), Mary
(12), John (11), Ann (7) and Donald (2) are also present.
His brother Donald died of illness at Inverness, having served in the RNR. His brother Charles served in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and was wounded.
From the battalion war diary
The battalion is in action east of Ypres, conducting the battle of Broodseinde, the last battle of Passchendaele.
The Battalion formed up for attack by zero -1 hour on correct alignment
in touch with 1st Hampshire on right and R Dublin Fusiliers on left.
Coys were closed up to total depth of 120 yards to get clear of EAGLE
trench which would have broken formations. Two leading platoons of each
assaulting coy carried trench boards in cue of difficulty being found in
crossing water and marsh between starting point and KANGAROO trench and
LAUDETBEEK. Platoons were to advance in succession under cover of the
creeping barrage at correct distances of 100yards between platoons and
150 yards between coys with moppers coy HQs 50 yards in rear of the
platoon of each coy.
At zero hour (6 am) leading platoons advanced into barrage, but found
great difficulty in keeping alignment owin to water forcing them to
follow best ground or the marsh. This caused confusion and resulted in
formation of assaulting coys being lost, especially on left where the
leading wave walked into our own barrage. KANGAROO trench was reached
without coys, platoons being able to disentangle themselves enemy who
showed resistance being bayonetted and remainder being passed back. A
total of about 25 men were taken prisoner on the front up to KANGAROO
trench, including several men were killed by enemy barrage fire on their
way back. The left assaulting coy came into some resistance and did not
take many prisoners. Coy SM Bain killing 15 enemy to his own bayonet.
As the advance proceeded coys endeavoured to regain formation but this
was found to be impossible owing to confusion and the excited condition
of the men. Up to BEEK STREET trench casualties were not heavy, but from
that point onwards machine gun fire was encountered, from left flank
generally and this fire caused considerable casualties, both coy
commanders and 6 of their platoon commanders of the two left coys being
put out of action. Continuing their advance towards their objective, the
left coy captured the fortified houses and the right coy advance over
19 Metre Hill. The left coys were unable to advance further, where the
remaining men established themselves in shell holes.