In the action of the 30th September, the 2nd Battalion lost two of most promising young officers; Captain de Castro and Captain Smith.
Captain James Vivien Reynell de Castro (above left) was born in Torquay on May 19th 1891. Educated at Beaumont, his father was a serving Major with the 3rd Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. At the outbreak of war, he was working as a Sales Executive for the American Motor Company in Turin, but returned as soon as he could to play his part and was gazetted into the 3rd Battalion on 2nd September 1914. He arrived on the western front to join the 2nd Battalion on 28th January 1915 when they were commanded by Colonel Clifford. The 2nd Battalion had at one point been commanded by Colonel Vivian Graham, de Castro's uncle and many quipped that they were "keeping it in the family." On the 20th July, just a few yards from where he was killed, he had held a crater throughout the night, beating off several counterattacks. For his part in the action he was awarded the Military Cross and gazetted Captain. Following the actions of 30th September, he was recommended for a Victoria Cross by the CO; Colonel d'Arch Smith, but he was killed the following day.
Captain Edward Corrigan Smith (above right) was born in Petersfield, Sussex and like de Castro had a serving father in the Buffs. After Sandhurst, he joined the 1st Battalion in Malta. After periods in Cyprus and Egypt, he applied in 1912 for a secondment to the Colonial Office and was accepted serving with the West African Frontier Force in Nigeria and Lohoja. However, after contracting sleeping sickness, he was invalided home after just six months and spent almost 3 years recuperating, he was fit enough to rejoin the Regiment for light duties at the Depot in the autumn of 1914. Desperate to get to the front, he took a posting to the 3rd Battalion, and then after being declared fit, he arrived in Belgium in June to serve with the 2nd Battalion.
Wounded in the same action, Captain C.M.E. Dealtry wrote to Smith's brother "I was wounded in the same attack in which your brother was killed. About 28th September, the Germans blew up, by mens of a mine, a portion of the trenches held bight Regiment on our right, occupying the mine crater and a portion of our trenches. A day or two fat rewards, er were ordered - in conjunction with the bombers of two there regiments - to retake the lost trenches and if possible, the mine crater. We regained a considerable portion of the trenches, but were unable to get the crater. Your brother was hit early in the attack, and killed instantly. his loss is keenly felt by all who knew him, as apart from his being a keen, sound soldier and a brave man, he was exceedingly popular with everyone, and we all feel that we have lost one of the best."
De Castro and Smith were within the Battalion like the biblical characters Saul and Jonathan. Always together and keen to be together in the same actions, they had forged a great friendship in the brief few months they served together. They both met their death at the same time. "They were not divided. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions."
Welcome to our online 'blog' charting the history of the many Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment and the part they played in the Great War.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
Keep checking back to see how the Great War is progressing for the men of the Suffolk Regiment.