Private Clement Goldsmith – Killed in Action 9th September 1916

Clement Jabez Goldsmith was born in Wadhurst, Sussex, in early 1894. He was one of two children born to Jabez and Elizabeth Goldsmith. Sadly, their other child died young but they adopted a boy, Charlie, a younger brother for Clement.

The family moved to Goudhurst, in Kent, when Clement was young. Jabez was a bricklayer’s labourer and may have come to the area to work on one of the large houses being built at that time. When the building work ended, the family stayed in the village, living at Oddfellows Cottages, and Jabez became a coal porter.

Clement grew up to become a gardener at one of the local houses. He was still in Goudhurst in May 1914 but shortly afterwards he came to Banstead. He worked at the Gartons’ house in Banstead Woods and probably lived in a cottage on the estate. The house became a military hospital during WWII, then the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in 1948 and was converted into apartments in 2005.

War was soon declared and Clement returned to Kent and enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment at Tunbridge Wells in September 1914. He joined the 7th (Service) Battalion and trained at Shorncliffe, Folkestone and Aldershot before deploying to France on 31st May 1915.

They took part in the Battle of Loos, the first test of Kitchener’s New Army, in September 1915 and in the fighting that followed in October. At some point after arriving in France, Clement was transferred from the 7th to the 2nd (Regular) Battalion, probably after convalescing from a wound he received early on in the Battle of the Somme.

At 4:45pm on 9th September 1916, the 2nd Battalion left their trenches facing High Wood. Their objective was Wood Lane, a trench that ran along a road between High Wood and Longueval. They advanced into heavy artillery and machine-gun fire, especially intense on their left where machine-gunners inside the Wood turned back the battalion that was advancing on the Sussex men’s left. They made it to Wood Lane, captured the trench and dug a defensive flank on their left to connect it back to the British trenches. 49 men were killed, 150 wounded and 63 men were missing.

Clement’s body was either never found or was not identifiable and his name is inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme. He is commemorated on the Wadhurst War Memorial Cross, on a memorial plaque in St Peter and St Paul’s, Wadhurst, on the wooden panels in the Lady Chapel at All Saints’, Banstead, and in All Saints’ Book of Men Who Served Overseas. His name was read out in a memorial service at Goudhurst’s Wesleyan Chapel in 1920. He was 22 years old.

Clement was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1914-15 Star.

Clement will be commemorated on Friday 9th September 2016 at 11:50am at All Saints’ Church, Banstead, as part of Banstead and Burgh Heath’s WW1 remembrance project. On the 100th anniversary of each man’s death, the churchyard flag at All Saints’, Banstead, is flown at half-mast and a short commemoration service is held, during which a church bell is tolled 100 times at noon.

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