January 15th 1915
In the early days of the war a few families were able to arrange for their dead sons, fathers and husbands to be brought home. Lance Corporal Oliver Smith, who died in the 3rd London General Hospital in Wandsworth, was the first soldier killed in the war to be brought back to Ramsgate to be buried in St Lawrence churchyard. As the Thanet Times reported there were hundreds of local people lining the route to pay their respects from the house in Bloomsbury Road to the church.
“There was scarcely a dry eye among the women folk, for many had sons and husbands at the Front, and many of the sterner sex had to battle hard with their emotion when the coffin covered by the Union Jack, on which rested the deceased’s cap, bayonet, and belt, was lifted from the hearse.”
Corporal Oliver Smith was very well known in the town especially in athletic circles being an old member of the Christ Church Ramsgate Town A team and the St George’s football team. He was also a prominent member of the Christ Church and St George’s gymnasiums. He left the town to join the ranks of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. At La Bassee he was wounded in the head and subsequently taken to the military hospital in Boulogne, then later to the Military Hospital in London where he died. The deceased soldier was only 28 years old and left a wife and one child.