Military Medal, 1914 Star, with original clasp, British War Medal & Victory Medal, Lance Corporal Archie Smith, Northamptonshire Yeomanry, a rare “Old Contemptible’s” Military Medal for Italy, as the Yeomanry drove the Austrians out of Italy at the end of the war.
Military Medal impressed: 145143 Pte – L. Cpl. A. Smith. North’n Yeo
“YEO” officially corrected on Military Medal.
1914 Star impressed: 145143 Pte A. Smith 1/1 North’n Yeo
BWM & Victory impressed: 780 Pte A. Smith. North’n Yeo
His Military Medal was announced in the London Gazette of 29th March 1919 when the Northampton Yeomanry earned 22 Military Medals all for the Italy campaign, whereas the only other Yeomanry awards were 3 M.M.’s to the Yorks Dragoons.
Archie Smith was a member of the first soldiers of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry to arrive in France, on 6th November 1914, the regiment had been mobilised with the 8th Division.
They disembarked at Le Havre and moved quickly with the 8th Division into the fighting line in the Merville-Estairs sector, remaining there throughout that winter.
In March 1915 the Yeomen held the line between the 7th and 8th Divisions during the battle of Neuve Chapelle and for their gallant action were awarded a number of decorations, including the CMG to Lt Col Wickham, later that year the regiment once again earned honours for its part in the battle of Ypres.
In May 1916 Lt Col A.G. Seymour, who had been adjutant on the reforming of the Regiment in 1902, took over command. He was wounded in the battle of Arras in Aprill 1917 and succeeded by Lt Col Sir Charles Lowther.
In June 1917 the Regiment gained further battle honours at Scarpe, and then in July it joined a Yeomanry refitting camp at Ayette where several Yeomanry Regiments were converted to dismounted troops. The Northamptonshire Yeomanry, however, was selected to remain as cavalry and it continued in this role until the end of the war.
Included is the book “Northamptonshire Yeomanry 1794-1964” by H. de L. Caznove which details the following about their time in Italy when Smith earned the M.M.:
“Following the Italian retreat from Izonzo, a British force under the command of General Plumer was sent to their assistance in November 1917. This force included the Northamptonshire Yeomanry which now formed part of the 14th Corps. In the role of Corps Mounted Troops the Regiment played a prominent part in the pursuit of the Austrian Forces in Northern Italy, afterwards gaining the battle honour of Italy 1917-18. It also won honours in the final battle of campaign “Vittorio Veneto” in which the Yeomen were actively involved.”
The division had crossed the Piave and by October 1918 had advanced sufficiently to allow the engineers to build bridges over the river. At night, at a moment when the river was not in spate, for this would have prevented the attack being carried out, the cavalry, which consisted of two regiments – The Northamptonshire Yeomanry and the North Irish Horse – Crossed the Piave, passed through the cheering front line infantry, and penetrated nearly 10 miles into enemy territory encountering surprisingly little resistance. They captured many prisoners and were only slowed down when they were within a mile of Pordenoni. At this stage the Motor Machine Gun Corps passed them, and not long after the Yeomen heard the staccato of the guns and witnessed their withdrawal.
The next day after Heavy Artillery and air attack both the Cavalry and Infantry advanced through the now deserted town and followed the trail of corpses, tin hats and rifles which marked the direction of the Austrian retreat.
They proceeded to capture thousands of prisoners, most of whom had not eaten for several days, and continued the advance until 3rd November, by which time the Yeomen had reached the river Tagliamenti and an armistice was announced.
Later on 11th November, the news of the collapse of Germany came as a herald to demobilisation and home.”
The regiment was demobilised in Italy during March 1919 and on it’s return home, the Commanding Officer Sir Charles Lowther was given the Freedom of Northampton in recognition for its war service, they also received a letter of commendation from General Lord Cavan, C in C of British Forces in Italy:
“My Dear Lowther, Please tell your regiment I am delighted with it, and please accept my sincere thanks for your gallant action and sound leading. No time for more. Yours, Cavan”
Northampton Chronicle and Echo 17th December 1914:
“BARRY ROAD’S ROLL OF HONOUR
OLD BOYS SERVING WITH THE COLOURS
Although a large proportion of the lads trained in the elementary schools of Northampton are at work in the boot factories, and therefore are not eligible for enlisting, it is gratifying to know that the old boys of the town are not behind in responding to their country’s call.
The following is a list, necessarily incomplete, of former Barry-road scholars who are serving in H.M