Last WW1 Cavalryman dies aged 108

Well done Smiler, that was a good run.

Last living British soldier to have taken a sabre to the enemy.... truly an end of an epoch.
last of the brave,you can have a well earned rest now mate.R.I.P SMILER :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink:
Slowly one of the finest generations slips away, rest in peace, you certainly earned it.
Albert ‘Smiler’ Marshall, 106

Served in 1/1st Essex Yeomanry 1914-1918

“Smiler” Marshall, then 17, lied about his age in 1914 to enlist in the Yeomanry, where he was given his nickname by a drill sergeant. Sent home wounded from the Western Front, he volunteered to return as a machine-gunner. A former groom, chauffeur and handyman, he lives in a cottage in Surrey, looked after by a loyal carer.

After all these years, I can still see the faces of my fallen mates. Not a day goes by when I don’t remember them. I lost my elder brother, my best friend and countless others. Each day, as they fell in battle, I wondered whether I would survive another 24 hours.

One time in Flanders in 1917 I saw new arrivals from the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry go over the top at 6.30am. By 9am, all were dead. We went out into no man’s land to bury them, an officer of the Royal Army Medical Corps holding up a white stick as a sign to the enemy to stop firing, which they did. We buried 300 bodies. We just rolled ones and twos into shellholes and put dirt over them. It was just awful. They were so young, clean and smart. I still see their faces.

On another occasion, a shell landed close by and I was buried up to my waist in thick mud, unable to move. Two of my comrades buried with me did not survive but I managed to attract a search party by singing Nearer My God To Thee.

Even when not under fire, life was pretty grim in the trenches. I had only two baths in three years and was lousy all the time. And the rats, they were big blooming things. They used to sit there and look at you and more or less ask for food. We used to throw our bully beef tins or any mouldy bread over the parapet to encourage them. In this instance, you were allowed all the ammunition you wanted and, as the rats ran along the parapet, you could amuse yourself shooting them. The bullets were going over no man’s land to the German lines, so it didn’t matter.

I was once in a trench only 18 yards from the nearest German trench. One day they sent a stick grenade flying over to which they had tied a couple of cigarettes. After a bit I went over to the bomb and my mates said, “For God’s sake don’t touch it” because they thought it would go off and blow me up. But I went and smoked one of the cigarettes and it was all right – so we sent the same stick bomb back with a whole packet attached. I hope they enjoyed them.

Near the end of the war, the Germans overran my trench and I was captured. I thought I’d be shot but they allowed me to return to the British lines.

You lived in the trenches for days and days with nothing happening but bombardments and you regularly lost a friend or someone near you. The thought never left you that you could be next. But it didn’t occur to you not to fight. You didn’t think about it, you just did it. You just took what came your way.

But I did have sympathy for those who were punished for some misdeed or other. One day I was ordered to stand guard over a chap who had been tied to a wheel, without food or water. I can’t even remember what he’d done but I felt sorry for him so I put my fag up to his lips so he could have a smoke. It was a very risky thing to do because if anyone had seen me they’d have tied me to the wheel as well. Years later I was walking down Oxford Street in London and I saw him. He recognised me immediately and thanked me. He said he’d never forgotten that fag.


Kit Reviewer
You've done your duty Smiler, time to rest now.

We will never forget you or your mates.

Go well.
Can't help but feel humbled reading the stories of the Great war soldiers.

Better men than me

RIP mate......

Like Cuts says, time to rest.
I had the pleasure of seeing Smiler at Bisley about three years ago when the 80th anniverary of the demise of the Machine Gun Corp was celerbrated in Exercise Parting Shot.
Smiler was wheeled past us so he could fire a Vickers machine gun as one of the last surviving veterans of the Great War, he genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself on the day.

Sleep well Smiler, you have earnt it!
Well if there is afterlife, I hope his troopie is telling him he's late on parade.

Rest well Smiler, you've earnt it.

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