Gunner John Smith, of the Royal Horse Artillery, attached to the 119th Royal Field Artillery, was born in Liberton. He grew up in Dalmeny, his family having moved there by 1901. In 1911, aged 17, he was employed as a Shale Miner living in Queensferry with the family.
The RFA was responsible for light, mobile guns that provided firepower in support of the cavalry.
The 119th was part of the 5th Division. As we are unsure when John enlisted, he may have taken part in most of the major actions. Research has not shown conclusively that the 5th Division participated in the Winter Operations, (23rd November – 6th February 1915), however John lost his life during this time. He died in France, on 31st January 1915 aged 21.
John is buried in Grave Ref: A. 4. 3. – St Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France. He was awarded the 1914 Medal and the British War and Victory Medals.
The Royal Horse Artillery: armed with light, mobile, horse-drawn guns that in theory provided firepower in support of the cavalry and in practice supplemented the Royal Field Artillery.
The Royal Field Artillery: the most numerous arm of the artillery, the horse-drawn RFA was responsible for the medium calibre guns and howitzers deployed close to the front line and was reasonably mobile.
Noted WWI historian John Terraine said in his excellent White Heat – the new warfare 1914-18, “The war of 1914-18 was an artillery war: artillery was the battle-winner, artillery was what caused the greatest loss of life, the most dreadful wounds, and the deepest fear”. (1914-1915.net)
More information to follow.