Text provided by Marjorie Quarton (daughter of Standish Smithwick)
My father, Standish Smithwick, was born in Ireland in 1878 and was a regular soldier.
He served in the 1st Batt. Royal Dublin Fusiliers through the Boer War, in Egypt, India and elsewhere, and re-founded the Camel Corps in the Sudan.
When WW1 broke out, he had been transferred to the 2nd Batt. (the Old Toughs) and he served on the Western front throughout, being one of only 4 officers to survive in the whole regiment, although severely wounded in 1915 and gassed twice, losing a lung.
At the famous Christmas truce in 1914, he met a young German who approached him and, indicating a fresh scar on Father’s face said, ‘I did that, I am glad I did not kill you.’ The two men had much in common, although my father was senior by several years. Both kept horses, had the same kind of background and education, were good at sports and athletics. The young man, Sigmund or Siegmund, came from Hanover. He showed Father his rifle, with its telescopic sight. The British army didn’t have such things. Both were humane men and returned to the business of trying to kill one another with disgust.
Some months later, the ‘Dublins’ approached Mouse Trap (or Shell Trap) farm. Father went to investigate the buildings before it was light, suspecting that there might be snipers or hidden machine guns. Going round the end of the main building, revolver in hand, he came face to face with Sigmund, also holding his revolver, on exactly the same mission. Both stopped a yard apart. Nothing was said. Then, each turned his back and walked away, frightened no doubt, but fairly sure that he would not be shot.
Father didn’t talk about the war in later years, except in general terms. He was awarded the military O.B.E. and retired to Ireland. But, as an old man, during his last illness, he relived the incident many times and the gas attack that followed – the first of the war.
Marjorie Quarton. Sept. 2002.