Lieutenant General Sir Harry Smith

William Seymour describes the fifty-four years Harry Smith served as a Rifleman, with service at Buenos Aires, Badajos, and in India and South Africa.

Recalling, in his autobiography, one of his more acidulated retorts to a senior officer who had asked a somewhat obvious question, Harry Smith wrote, ‘We Light Division gentlemen were proper saucy fellows.’ And so they were; but they were some of the finest soldiers that the British army ever put into the field. This school of military precision, initiative and élan, inspired and led by men such as Coote Manningham, Stewart, Moore and Craufurd, close-knit by active service and tempered by danger and discipline, formed the background to Sir Harry Smith’s life.

He was born at Whittlesey on June 28th, 1787, the fifth surviving child of John and Eleanor Smith. He received his education from the curate of the parish, in a part of the local church that in 1862 was converted into his memorial chapel. In May 1805 Smith was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the 95th (Rifles) Regiment, and four months later his father was able to buy him a subaltern’s vacancy on his joining the newly raised 2nd battalion of the regiment.

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