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  • Christina Drummond

Lieutenant Reuben Hinton Smith, 14th Battalion, The Devonshire Regiment (Territorial Force)

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1918, Lieutenant Reuben Hinton Smith, 14th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment (Territorial Force), was killed in a bomb explosion.

Educated at Plymouth and Mannamead College, and a member of the Officers’ Training Corps, he had applied for a commission the day after his 17th birthday, and was gazetted to the 4th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment in April of 1915. Disappointed that he was not accepted for active service, he excelled at everything he turned his hand to in his duties as an officer of the Home Army – he achieved the highest standards in all the courses he took, including bombing, machine gunnery, and musketry. At the time of his death he was Bombing Officer and Instructor in Bombing to his battalion, when a bomb exploded during an instruction session, injuring one soldier but killing Lieutenant Smith outright.

Those who served with him referred to his being “a great favourite,” much loved by other officers, and also by his men in whose welfare he took a keen interest.

One of his superior officers wrote: “I have never in all my wide experience met a young man whose qualities I appreciated so much for downright thoroughness, straightforwardness and keenness, Young as he was in years, he was several light years ahead of his age in manliness. I shall always think of him as the straightest and most honourable lad I have ever known. He always stood for youth and courage with me, more perhaps than anyone. I am sure he never did a mean action, and his faith in the honourableness of others was almost sublime. He was so brave, quite the bravest lad I ever knew, fear was not in him.” He is buried in Herne Bay Cemetery in Kent.

Reuben, from Plymouth, had ten days earlier just turned 20 years old.

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