Percy Albert Smith was born on 2 November 1890, the son of John and Emma Smith. Emma remarried and Percy lived with her and his stepfather Arthur Wright in Langham. He was a member of Leicestershire Police and was transferred from headquarters at Leicester to Oadby in August 1914. He joined the Army in June 1915 and went out to France in January 1916, serving with D Battery, 160th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He was killed during the Battle of the Somme near Albert. The brigade war diary on August 10 records how the batteries were ordered to help "isolate a portion of the [German] Switch line for an essential attack." D Battery would fire on the line where it crossed the main Bapaume Road just beyond Pozieres. Firing was to be one round every five minutes during the day and one round every two minutes during the night. Seventy-five per cent of shells would be shrapnel, the rest high explosive. The barrage continued during the following day when Percy was killed, presumably by a German counter-barrage. Another of his police comrades was badly injured at the same time and died next day. George Phillips wrote: "The Oadby Urban Council passed a vote of sympathy with Gunner Smith's mother, and the chief constable of Leicestershire (Mr. Ed. Holmes), also expressed his condolences with her, and said her son, while in the Police Force, won the respect of all who knew him." Percy was 25 years old. He is buried in Becourt Military Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt, grave I.V.26, and is remembered on Langham's war memorial.
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Photograph courtesy Langham Village History Group
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