19-year-old Lieutenant Joseph Cecil Smith, 70th Squadron Royal Flying Corps, was killed in action on 28th July 1917. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.
Joseph Cecil Smith was born in Handsworth, Staffordshire and baptised at St James’ Church, Handsworth on 20th August 1898. He was the fourth of the seven children (five sons, two daughters) of parents Frederick John (a wholesale fish merchant) and Martha Elizabeth (née Stoddard) who had married on 18th September 1893 at All Saints, Hockley, Birmingham.
Sometime between 1901 and 1909, the family moved to Solihull and, in 1911, they were living at the Manor House, Warwick Road. Joseph Cecil Smith attended Solihull School (Solihull House) and, according to Solihull School in the First World War by John Loynton, he left school in 1914 after passing the Oxford Local Exam in 1913. During his final year at school he came third at throwing a cricket ball on Sports Day 1914. He was a keen member of the Officer Training Corps, and achieved First Class Marksman, being promoted sergeant in his final year.
His father, Frederick John Smith, died on 15th January 1917, aged 56. His estate was left to his wife absolutely, and the Birmingham Daily Post 28th April 1917, lists the “superior detached residence”, the Manor House, Warwick Road, for sale by auction on 17th May 1917. The property was described as including portico, lounge hall, drawing room, dining room, study, school room, six bed chambers, bath room and W.C. The grounds of over one acre included a tennis lawn, rose garden, fruit garden, and paddock; plant house, cow house and fowl houses. Also included as part of the sale of the estate, was The Bull’s Head public house, Key Hill, Hockley, Birmingham and ten dwelling houses in Icknield Street.
From information collated on the Air History site, it appears that Lieutenant Smith was serving with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was then attached to the Royal Flying Corps. It seems that his Sopwith Camel aeroplane (B3814) was damaged by enemy action in combat during an offensive patrol over Dixmude-Ypres on 26th July 1917, just two days before he was killed. On 28th July, he was flying another Sopwith Camel (B3874) which was seen to go down in flames whilst on offensive patrol over Roulers.
Solihull Parish Magazine, September 1917 listed Joseph Cecil Smith as missing. He is commemorated on Solihull War Memorial and on the war memorial at Solihull School.
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